The Psychology of Competition: Comparing Social Perspectives

Garcia et al. emphasize the human drives in competition using the social comparison theory comprised of individual and situational factors. The main focus is on how competition plays the most important role in striving to perform the best to achieve a superior position in society. Various examples of tasks we go through as students, workers and athletes are used to reflect our competitive dispositions and our lack of cooperation in helping others succeed within an environment of profit uncertainty. Compared to the previous articles focused on the importance of interdependence and cooperation in opposition to conflict, Garcia et al. use real life situations to show how a competitive attitude enhances performance in any task within a range of relational factors.

Both Marcia et al. and Garcia et al. approach competition through a social perspective, unlike the economic and business examples from the previous articles. However, Marcia et al. argue how both cooperation and competition coexist in every society in their individual regulations and Garcia breaks down the factors contributing to the advantages and disadvantages of a competitive environment in society without taking a specific position. In contrast, Hutcheon highlights the need for academic collaboration and displays competition as an agonistic business model, while Rubin and Bateson emphasized the importance of systematic cooperation in our economy.

Overall the articles represent the key element in understanding cooperation/competition is the type of interdependence found between individuals. The goals may be negatively interdependent and form competitive relationships (zero-sum) or positively interdependent and create cooperative relationships (win-win). Cooperative behaviours consist of positive characteristics, including more effective communication/coordination, open/friendly attitudes, a sense of mutuality and the willingness to increase the other’s power or success. Competitive attitudes cause the inverse effects of obstructed communication, inability to coordinate, a lack of self-esteem or trust, the desire to reduce the other’s power and dominate them. I agree with our classmate’s post and the explanation of Molina explaining the actions taken that are cooperative/competitive, while Garcia focuses on the intentions of our competitive abilities in the pursuit of achieving a high ranking.

1 Comment

  1. I really liked how you distinct Marcia et al’s and Garcia et al’s content in a very articulate and accurate way! As a response to your concluding paragraph: although the papers we have read and discussed in class generally offer the perspective that competition is counterproductive and disadvantageous while cooperation is beneficial and promotes a better dynamic, are you, yourself, a believer that competition is always bad, and cooperation is always good? (Speaking broadly in terms of society)


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