Ranks and Rivals: A Theory of Competition

Ross School of Business Paper No. 1030

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 32, pp. 970-982, 2006

42 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2006  

Stephen M. Garcia

University of Michigan

Avishalom Tor

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

Richard Gonzalez

Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Competition, Social Comparison, Decision Making, Social Capital, Behavioral, Economics

JEL Classification: C7, C70, C71, M3, M31, M20, D70

Suggested Citation

Garcia, Stephen M. and Tor, Avishalom and Gonzalez, Richard, Ranks and Rivals: A Theory of Competition. Ross School of Business Paper No. 1030; Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 32, pp. 970-982, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=880489

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

Richard Gonzalez

Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

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