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

See all articles by Stephen M. Garcia

Stephen M. Garcia

University of Michigan

Avishalom Tor

Notre Dame Law School

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

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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