Competitive Social Behavior in Psychology

The topic of social behavior is of the greatest importance in modern social psychology. Psychologists distinguish several types of social behavior, including competitive behavior. Social behavior should be considered from the psychological impact on people and their position in society. It implies a psychological impact on people and the occupation of a specific position among them. Such forms of social behavior are considered by the society, not by the individual. Their interaction with other people influences both individuals and society as a whole.

Description of the Competitive Social Behaviour

Competitive behavior is called when the surrounding people are perceived by a person as potential or real competitors, and he enters into a struggle or competition with them. This behavior is designed to achieve advantage and victory. Functionally or meaningfully, type A behavior is associated with competitive behavior, according to which a person is impatient, irritable, hostile and distrustful, and type B behavior, according to which a person does not seek to compete with anyone, and expresses a benevolent attitude to everyone.

Real-World Example

A competitive form of social behavior occurs when people’s interests, goals or motives contradict each other to some extent, at the same time the nature of their interests cannot be changed. For example, such a form of behavior may occur within a sports team during the training process. In this case, it will contribute to the stress resistance of athletes at performances and competitions with rivals. As an example of a competitive form of social behavior, we can also consider the strategy of behavior of schoolchildren in classes with a point evaluation system.

Relevant Psychological Research

According to the study ‘Mind the absent gap: Gender-specific competitive behavior in nonprofessional sports’, competitive behavior has both positive and negative effects on personality development (Pikos et al., 2019). The study based on a survey of adolescents have revealed both sides of the influence of this social behavior on the formation of a person. It is argued that personal development and competition are an interconnected process where both sides mutually condition each other. The strength of the research is a versatile view of competitive relations. However, much more evidence is presented in favor of the negative impact of this type of social behavior on the formation of a teenager. Despite the desire for objectivity, there is still a clear predominance of negative influence in the article.

The article ‘Stretch goals and unethical behavior: Role of ambivalent identification and competitive psychological climate’ adheres to the theory that competitive social behavior arises as a form of conflict (Chen et al., 2021). It is characterized by any social situation or process in which two or more social units are connected by at least one form of psychological or interactive antagonism. The strengths of the study are the identification of these forms of antagonism as a consequence of the application of a competitive behavior model. However, there is not enough evidence that interactive antagonism gradually turns into psychological antagonism over time, which is the limitation of the article.

Influence of Other People’s Social Behaviour

The relationship between competitive and gender-role social behavior is high. Thus, scientists have studied a patriarchal-oriented society, where a vertical hierarchy operates (Andrevski et al., 2021). At the top are strong and tough masculine men who show the maximum number of signs of the traditional male role. There is high competition between them regarding the manifestation of leadership qualities, the amount of earnings and other similar signs. Thus, gender-role behavior becomes the root cause of conflicting social behavior.

Current Understanding

Many scientists have analyzed competition as one of the types of social behavior to one degree or another in their works. They analyze competition as a social phenomenon that contributes to the progress of society (Everett et al., 2017). Nevertheless, first of all, attention was paid to the negative consequences manifested in the emergence of antagonism between rivals, the division of society, the exclusion of mutual assistance. Competition as a civilized and humanistic orientation in accordance with social categories has not been fully investigated.

Knowledge Gaps

The problem of the existence of competitive behavior and its strategies does not seem to be solved. In particular, a number of issues remain unclear. For example, a significant field for research is created by the question of how to promote a dialogue of different points of view, in which truth is born. In addition, in the conditions of modern realities, competitive behavior acquires capitalist features, which leads to certain, largely negative and even destructive, psychological consequences. These features and consequences are constantly hushed up and mystified, and their awareness is displaced. Psychology and sociology have not yet fully paid attention to the study of these issues.

Ideas For Future Research

Continuation of research in this area is possible in terms of further study of the mechanisms mediating the perception and behavior of an individual in a group from the level of awareness of the goal before making decisions about joint action. At the group level, studies of the processes of group discussion and learning from one’s own experience are relevant. At the organizational level, it is important to study social networks, project activities and the development of horizontal relationships between employees in various types of joint activities. Thus, it will be possible to assess in more detail the emergence of a competitive type of social behavior in modern conditions.


Andrevski, G., Miller, D., Breton-Miller, I. L., & Ferrier, W. (2021). Competitive rationales: Beneath the surface of competitive behavior. Journal of Management, 20(10), 1-32. Web.

Chen, C., Zhang, Z., & Jia, M. (2021). Stretch goals and unethical behavior: Role of ambivalent identification and competitive psychological climate. Management Decision, 59(8), 2005-2023. Web.

Everett, A. J., Ingbretsen, Z., Cushman, F., & Cikara, M. (2017). Deliberation erodes cooperative behavior — Even towards competitive out-groups, even when using a control condition, and even when eliminating selection bias. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 73(9), 76-81. Web.

Pikos, A. K., & Straub, A. (2019). Mind the absent gap: Gender-specific competitive behavior in nonprofessional sports. Journal of Sports Economics, 21(3), 52-56. Web.

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