Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 32, pp. 970-982, 2006
42 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 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.
Keywords: Competition, Social Comparison, Decision Making, Social Capital, Behavioral, Economics
JEL Classification: C7, C70, C71, M3, M31, M20, D70
Suggested Citation: 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