Ranks and Rivals: A Theory of Competition
Stephen M. Garcia
University of Michigan
Notre Dame Law School; University of Haifa - Faculty of Law
Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan
Ross School of Business Paper No. 1030
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 32, pp. 970-982, 2006
Social comparison theories typically assume a comparable degree of competition between commensurate rivals on a mutually important dimension. In contrast, however, the following set of studies reveals that the degree of competition between such rivals depends on their proximity to a standard. Studies 1-3 test the prediction that individuals become more competitive and less willing to maximize profitable joint gains when they and their commensurate rivals are highly ranked (e.g., #2 vs. #3) than when they are not (e.g., #202 vs. #203). Studies 4-6 then generalize these findings, showing that the degree of competition increases not only for high ranks but also in the proximity of other meaningful standards, such as the bottom of a ranking scale or a qualitative threshold in the middle of a scale. Studies 7-8 further examine the psychological processes underlying the present findings and reveal that proximity to a meaningful standard exerts a direct impact on the "unidirectional drive upward," beyond the established effects of commensurability and dimension relevance.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 42
Keywords: Competition, Social Comparison, Decision Making, Social Capital, Behavioral, Economics
JEL Classification: C7, C70, C71, M3, M31, M20, D70
Date posted: February 10, 2006
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