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Old 06-07-2006, 04:17 AM
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Default Re: Competition—the Struggle for Excellence or Victory?

What an awesome question, Venom!! LOL, I'll answer it. [img]/forum/images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img]

Well, my personal scientific opinion is that competition is learned, and not unnavoidable.

Eitzen (2001) argues that the American society has been so indoctrinated with competition, that Americans simply assume competition is a natural part life, “just like a fish doesn’t understand water because it does not know anything different.” Perhaps the easiest way to determine if competition is part of human nature is to study various cultures. Indeed, if humans are inherently competitive, seemingly all cultures would be structured around competition, as America is. Mead and colleagues (1937) did just this, and based on the observation of dozens of cultures concluded that:

the most basic conclusion which comes out of this research [is] that competitive and cooperative behavior on the part of individual members of a society is fundamentally conditioned by the total social emphasis of that society, that the goals for which individuals will work are culturally determined and are not the response of the organism to an external, culturally undefined situation.

In support of this, Deutcsh (1973, as cited by Kohn, 1992) who is considered by many to be the father of modern research on competition, suggests that “it would be unreasonable to assume there is an innately determined human tendency for everyone to want to be ‘top dog.’” Sport Psychologists Tutko & Bruns (1976), who have a great deal of experience with athletes of various age groups, agree, stating:

Competition is a learned phenomena…people are not born with a motivation to win or to be competitive. We inherit a potential for a degree of activity, and we all have the instinct to survive. But the will to win comes through training and the influence of ones family and environment.

Thus, based on this evidence, competition is not an inherent attribute, but rather, a learned characteristic. This is further supported by studies showing that Americans are consistently more competitive than other cultures (Beatrice & Whiting, 1975).

For a comprehensive rebuttal against the competitive human nature argument see Kohn (1992, The “Human Nature” Myth).

Kohn, Alfie. (1992). No Contest. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Kohn went off in that book. I highly reccommend for anyone that is interested in the topic.

Opinions? [img]/forum/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]
Gabriel "Venom" Wilson, Ph.D. Nutritional Sciences
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