Rivalry as competition and cooperation

Kolga V.

Traditionally, rivalry is defined as an act of competing for profit, goal or price. Some rivalries are very visible, others are hidden. Sibling rivalry, usually unspoken one, is the most well-known competition among siblings for recognition and attention of their parents. The main question is why aren’t all competitive relations between individuals, groups, firms and states called rivalry. Consequently, rivalries should have some special attributes which differentiates them from regular competitions. For instance, intuitively we feel that a game between Estonian and Brazilian soccer teams does not classified as rivalry. It is only a competition where somebody will win, the other will lose.

1) Rivalry in sport, business, art and science. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid have been rivals for many decades, as well Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are rivals for many years. Istanbul football teams Fenerbahce S.K. (from the Asian side of Istanbul) and Galatasaray S.K. (on the European side) are rivals. Canadian and Russian ice hockey teams have been rivals for decades. The Djokovic–Federer tennis rivalry is between two professional tennis players. They have faced each other 46 times with Djokovic leading 24-22 (9-6 in Grand Slams). Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert were tennis rivals in 1975-88. I remember chess matches between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky in 1970–72 as battles between the two worlds. In business there are some well-known rivalries: Coke vs Pepsi, Nike vs Adidas, Airbus vs. Boeing, McDonald’s vs. Burger King, Canon vs. Nikon, BMW vs. Mercedes Benz, Thomas Edison vs. Nikola Tesla and Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs rivalries are also well-known. Rivalries in the art world are less visible in society. Sebastian Smee (2017) analysed four friendships, betrayals, and breakups that happened between Manet – Degas and Matisse – Picasso, and also relationships between modern artists Lucian Freud – Bacon and Pollock – De Kooning. Rivalry includes friendship, not only negativity. Academic rivalry is the most unfamiliar one. However, rivalries between Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins (DNA), of course between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are quite well-known. For history psychologists it would be interesting to study the rivalry between Alexei Nikolaevich Leontiev and Boris Gerasimovich Anan`ev and Moscow and Leningrad schools of psychology.

2) General attributes of different rivalries.

  • a) Rivalries are acting very close fields to each other. For instance, Freud and Jung were connected by the unconsciousness theme. However, Leontiev’s and Anan`ev’s psychology fields were quite distant, and consequently rivalry was probably weak. Of course, additional research is needed. Coke and Pepsi are good examples of closeness (color and taste are very similar). Same is the case of McDonald’s and Burger King.
  • b) Rivalries are top actors. To become a rival to somebody is a great honor and a great accomplishment. Rivals are well-known and respected. They belong to high society and elites. Psychology journals are also evaluated. Annual review of Psychology is the most highly rated journal (12.027), in the second place is Psychological Bulletin (8.793) and in the third is «Psychological Science in Public Interest. Supplement» (6.99). To publish a paper in these journals is a sign of great success. The last place, #241, is the journal called «Studies in American Humor» (0 points). However, the highest number of points among science journals – 61.786 – goes to «CA – A Cancer Journal for Clinicians». The difference between psychology and medicine is clear. The best psychology journal is in the 59th place among scientific journals. It means that psychology does not rival genetic research.
  • c) Rivalry consists in cooperation. The prerequisite of winning is cooperation between different actors. Messi and Ronaldo, Djokovic and Federer, Manet and Degas learned from each other. Even more clear is co-learning between great companies as Coke - Pepsi, Nike - Adidas, BMW - Mercedes. All these pairs need each other. For instance, if FC Barcelona team disappears, then football world would be totally different. This is also true in other rival pairs.
  • d) Rivalry lasts for a long time, often continuing throughout lifetime. There are different stages of rivalry. Both sides like to keep relationships, competition and cooperation as valuable parts of life.
  • e) Contrary to competition, in rivalry it is not clear who won, and who lost the competition. Nobody knows whether Canada or Russia will win the next match.

3) The psychological phenomenon of rivalry. Kilduff, Gavin J. (2014) defined rivalry as a competitive relationship that increases the psychological stakes of competition independent of the objective stakes. Rivalry is relational and subjective phenomenon. Rivalry as a subjective competitive relationship is increasing the psychological, not rational-objective involvement of competitors beyond what the objective characteristics of the situation would predict.

Kilduff emphasizes that rivalry exists when an actor places greater significance on competition against certain other opponents as a direct result of his/her competitive relationships with these opponents, controlling for any objective stakes (financial, reputational, etc.). Ethical decision making is part of subjective nature of rivalry.


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    Для цитирования: 

    Kolga V. Rivalry as competition and cooperation // Ананьевские чтения – 2018: Психология личности: традиции и современность: материалы Междунар. науч. конф. Санкт-Петербург, 23-26 октября 2018 г. / Под общ. редакцией Н.В. Гришиной, С.Н. Костроминой. Отв. ред. И.Р. Муртазина, М.О. Аванесян – СПб.: Айсинг, 2018. – 496 с. – С. 38-38. – 0,11 п.л.


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