The Competition of Audiences: Garcia, Tor and Schiff versus Bateson

       Garcia, Tor and Schiff’s article, “The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective”, discusses the significance of social comparison in competition and introduces a new model that focuses on the distinction between situational and individual factors that increase social comparison and result in a variety of competitive behaviours. They state this distinction will assist in “future directions for social comparison research and generates new vistas across psychology and related disciplines.” I agree with @Andrea’s point that this article is similar to Werron’s work, in the sense, both papers have an aim to use competition for future research and while they’re coming from slightly different perspectives, the concepts still work well together and result in benefiting each other’s ideas and this invites others to research further into both concepts and thus, could achieve the goal of both papers for future research. Additionally, I agree with @Andrea’s point that Garcia et al article’s discourse community is broad because the authors have included many factors within psychology and beyond it, such as personality psychology, economics, law, consumer psychology, and etc, these are applicable to several different disciplines; therefore, they give this paper the potential to inspire diverse audiences to pursue further research based on the Garcia at al model. 

  Garcia et al’s use of broadening the discourse community is a similar strategy to Mary Catherine Bateson’s article, “The Myth of Independence and Competition”, for also having a broad audience. Bateson uses the examples of Darwin, the Bible, being a child, growing old and Garcia et al use examples, such as, pogo stick and weightlifting competitions, these are all generally common knowledge to most people and easily accessible in terms of understanding for someone who isn’t a scholar in the same fields as Bateson and Garcia et al. Bateson, however, did a better job at this. Garcia et al still uses a lot of vocabulary and jargon specific to their field, so some of their points aren’t as easily understood to someone outside of the field, compared to Bateson’s. Moreover, Bateson’s general tone and language is more casual, making her article easier to read and, in turn, easier to understand her points. Conversely, on top of the vocabulary and jargon catered to Garcia et al’s field, their tone is very formal, making it harder to read and more difficult to understand their points. Bateson’s article is much shorter and has a higher chance of someone finishing and getting all of her main ideas across; whereas, Garcia et al’s article is eighteen pages long and it’s likely people will disregard it or not get to the end because of it’s length. Garcia et al’s labelled sections, however, do cater to people only reading what they’re interested in. Yet these labels prevent Garcia et al’s readers to reading all of their points and missing many intended key points. Bateson keeping her article to the main idea and only including concise and concrete points gives her more outreach to the public than Garcia et al, which is both article’s intended purposes. 

   Bateson uses personal anecdotes to support her points and defines the jargon of her article, thus, making her article easy to follow for the reader. Garcia et al doesn’t do this as well as Bateson. They do use examples, yet not as often as Bateson. Also many of Garcia et al’s examples feel depersonalized and harder to remember since they’re not a personal story, the details feel abstract and many of the concepts are explained in formal terms. For Garcia et al’s article, I had to re-read many of the definitions and I was only able to grasp the concepts after applying it to my own personal anecdote. For example, as someone who doesn’t consider themselves to be competitive, the concept of social comparison theory doesn’t really apply to me nor did I think it was what majority of people felt. Subsequent to reading Garcia et al’s article, I believe the social comparison theory is relevant because even though many of the factors mentioned aren’t relatable to my own actions, I’ve experienced them from others. Prior to this, however, I just considered others to be shady and not competitive. For instance, regarding individual factors of competition, specifically relationship closeness meaning people would rather help strangers than their friends because of fear of their friend succeeding more than them. I’ve often found that friends of mine who’ve tried business ventures complaining about other friends lack of support. These other friends would rather spend hundred of dollars in supporting a celebrity business rather than showing any support to my friends business; yet my response to them complaining has continually been that it’s not a true friend if they won’t support you. Even as I said this, however, it was confusing because in other aspects these people were pretty decent and didn’t seem malicious so I could never figure out why exactly they were hindering on being supportive for things like supporting another friends music career or clothing brand. The explanation for their behaviour now makes sense after reading Garcia et al’s paper. Nevertheless, it only made sense or was memorable after I put a lot of effort in. Likewise, just this one concept from Garcia et al took many steps on my end, as a reader, to understand. I had to apply it to my own personal anecdotes to make sense and make several connections to the real world for it to seem relevant or applicable. All of this effort required from the reader, in Garcia et al’s article, limits the audience to a smaller percentage of people who’re willing to do this. Garcia et al’s intention is for their audience to pursue further research, therefore, they need a larger audience to do this. A larger audience would be defined as the general public, yet that means catering to their needs. Those needs are better catered by Bateson, thus, her article has a better chance of fulfilling her goal since it’s reaching more people. 


  1. Hello, I enjoyed reading your response! I agree with your opinion on Bateson’s paper and how they did a better job by allowing the audience to be more engaged while reading. However, I came across a question while reading your response. Considering the level of depth covered by these articles, which article did you find was more reliant on its sources based on the information given to the readers? Although both papers revolve around the same topic, they share different ideas by applying different resources and such.

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  2. Hello. In general I agree with your post but I must disagree with your last part about audience reach. You said that “All of this effort required from the reader, in Garcia et al’s article, limits the audience to a smaller percentage of people who’re willing to do this. Garcia et al’s intention is for their audience to pursue further research, therefore, they need a larger audience to do this.” I agree with you that Garcia et al.`s goal was to to increase future research into this topic but I believe that a larger audience would not be needed. Since the goal is to increase mostly psychological research and secondarily research in other disciplines, I believe this paper does a better job at motivating research than Bateson. This one provides clear referenced evidence for their new model and thus is more likely to be seen as a good paper, which in turn will increase the chance that future psychologists will hear and read about it. Thus could potentially inspire them to do more research like this. Any thoughts?

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  3. Hi, thank you for the question! I do believe that Garcia et al was more reliant on it’s sources and did a better job of conveying evidence to support their points than Bateson. Nevertheless, in my response, I was focusing on the fact that their purpose is for further research, and to do that, it’s better to be able to reach a broader audience which Bateson does better than Garcia et al. I disagree that they revolve around the same topic because their arguments are very distinct. Their purpose, however, is similar but yes they do apply different strategies on research for their papers.


  4. Hi, thanks for your comment! Yes I do agree that Garcia et al’s goal is to increase mostly psychological research and that their paper does a better job at providing evidence to support their points than Bateson. That’s a factor I should have mentioned in my response. I should also have mentioned my reasoning for reaching to a larger audience. I believe that people in academia, particularly in social science research, a large amount just theorizes concepts and that’s it. They do their research, write papers and mostly just confer that with each other to get published in journals. I believe their research is important but it should be used for more than just explaining what is going on. There should be more impact coming from the research, more action, more “show” and “less” tell. To do this, you have to reach out to more than just your peers and discourse community. Although Bateson providing more resources for her points, would have made her paper seem better to her discourse community, it’s more appealing to someone not in her discourse community. That’s what Garcia et al’s paper is not doing. That’s not Garcia et al’s main intention anyways yet their purpose is still for further research. Research can be more than “telling”, there’s various ways someone could apply research methods into doing more “showing” and discovering more. To do that, it’s better to be able to reach a broader audience which Bateson does better than Garcia et al. Garcia et al’s main targeted audience is social scientists, and although it’s likely that people in their field would do further research, the discourse community is still smaller than the general public. I believe that since Garcia et al applies their argument to several disciplines, it can be used by people who aren’t social scientists. If the purpose is for further research than appealing to the general public is better because the outreach is greater, therefore, even if social scientists decided to pursue Garcia et al’s topic, others could too.


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