The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective

Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8(6), 634-650 (2013)

Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 1459

19 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2013 Last revised: 8 Jan 2014

Stephen M. Garcia

University of Michigan

Avishalom Tor

Notre Dame Law School; University of Haifa - Faculty of Law

Tyrone M. Schiff

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Date Written: June 26, 2013

Abstract

Social comparison — the tendency to self-evaluate by comparing ourselves to others — is an important source of competitive behavior. We propose a new model that distinguishes between individual and situational factors that increase social comparison and thus lead to a range of competitive attitudes and behavior. Individual factors are those that vary from person to person: the relevance of the performance dimension, the similarity of rivals, and their relationship closeness to the individual, as well as the various individual differences variables relating to social comparison more generally. Situational factors, conversely, are those factors on the social comparison landscape that affect similarly situated individuals: proximity to a standard (i.e., near the number 1 ranking vs. far away), the number of competitors (i.e., few vs. many), social category fault lines (i.e., disputes across vs. within social categories), and more. The distinction between individual and situational factors also helps chart future directions for social comparison research and generates new vistas across psychology and related disciplines..

Keywords: social comparison, competition, competitive behavior, cooperation

JEL Classification: L1, C91, C7, D41

Suggested Citation

Garcia, Stephen M. and Tor, Avishalom and Schiff, Tyrone M., The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective (June 26, 2013). Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8(6), 634-650 (2013); Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 1459. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2285529

Stephen M. Garcia (Contact Author)

University of Michigan ( email )

741 Dennison Hall
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States
734-615-2561 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.sitemaker.umich.edu/stephen.garcia

Avishalom Tor

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, IN IN 31905
Israel

Tyrone M. Schiff

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street

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