Competition Is Inevitable


In the article “Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective.” written by Stephen M. Garcia, Avishalom Tor, and Tyrone M. Schiff, it was interesting to see their viewpoint contradict from other readings we have encountered in class, as they implicate competition is inevitable as noted by tianren123’s analysis that we as humans “cannot avoid competition” even if we acknowledge the benefits that cooperation can bring us.

Instead of cooperation as emphasized by Rubin and Molina et al., the authors of this paper put an emphasis on social comparison – a concept they explicate as phenomenon that arises as individuals are inherently propelled by nature of “unidirectional drive upward,” to maximize individual performance which simultaneously results in “competitive behaviour behaviour to protect one’s superiority.”

Their argument is intriguing because they are implying that it is not the ability or capability itself, but rather relativity between people that matters. Hence, the quality of the output that is produced by competition, is not of focus, but rather if you have “outperformed” your competition or not. This contradicts with Rubin’s research as he argued competition exists indirectly within the market with a purpose of societal benefit for the average consumers, rather than having the motive as to actually outperform the competition directly.

One of the example that I found brilliant with Garcia and his peers was when they mention the reluctance of the teams within the vicinity of similar ranks to trade players with one another. This example works in coherence with their argument, as it clearly shows the teams’ desires to reach the top, which results in obvious reluctance to trade players in fear of being outperformed by their rivals.


As I was reading the article, what I have come to realize at the end was that us as humans, are inherently very social animals, in which they care about what others think of them. Because of this tendency, we will always react in a certain way based on how others will act. This lead to an implication of humans as active adaptors based whether it be situational context or personal context as argued by Garcia et al. This is why I, personally, interpret competition (as well as cooperation) as one of the features that arise inevitably as humans are, by nature, species that are highly networked beings based on different norms, ethnicity, age, etc. In Garcia et al.’s article, for example, when they mention of the N effect (a theory in which comparison concerns intensify and competitiveness increases as the number of competitors decreases), it demonstrates that humans react based on what they think the supposed “audience” will approve of them (in fear of being judged).

Work Cited

Garcia, Stephen M., Avishalom Tor, and Tyrone M. Schiff. “The Psychology of Competition.” Perspectives on Psychological Science8, no. 6 (2013): 634-50. doi:10.1177/1745691613504114.

tianren123’s article:

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  1. Hello, I think your response is quite unique. But from my own perspective, instead of competition is inevitable, I believe that what author Molina wants to tell us in the 1st place is that cooperation is not only a solution of competition, but also a tendency of human evolution. Cooperation and competition coexist and these two relationships share the same status in human society. These two situations are not opposite in some extent, they tend to be separate dimensions and sometimes meet in intersections, contributing to the progress and prosperity of the society.


  2. I agree cooperation and competition coexist and they share the same status in human society. However, I would like to point out the reason why I said competition is inevitable, it is because he implicates that aside from cooperation, humans naturally have a desire to “outperform” one another in security of supposed “superior status.” So, yes, although agree with everything you have stated, I would like to point that Garcia is very intricate in his approach to explain his viewpoint on competition in which he connects the idea to inherent nature of human beings.


  3. While “Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective” does suggest social comparison as an intrinsic force in performance maximization, I would argue that Garcia et al are not promoting social comparison as absolute, but instead offering the social comparison model as a tool in understanding competitive processes and patterns within psychology and other various disciplines, which can then provide the solutions necessary to rid social comparison of its flaws and increase overall performance within each discipline.
    Garcia et al provide the example of the application of the social comparison model within public policy, in which social comparison actually decreases performance on the SAT exam as a result of individuals learning the number of test-takers in the venue, comparing themselves to the other test-takers, and eventually losing their motivation to succeed. The application of Garcia et al’s social comparison model permits the government to correct this negligence, thus decreasing overall social comparison and maximizing SAT performance levels.


  4. Yes, notice how people’s SAT scores differ based on the size of the sample population. This does indicate that people actually do make social comparison in RELATIVE to the population taking the SAT by nature. If humans truly weren’t competitive, theoretically speaking, N, our sample population of the test, should really not be a deciding factor in SAT score difference; however, like you have stated if N goes up, people’s scores have dropped which implicates that people simply didn’t care as they assume they sit somewhere in the average. All I’m simply saying is people inherently compare themselves to one another, whether it invokes competition or not. Thanks for great feedback, I look forward to reading your article as well Jacqueline!


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