Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

2020 Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford


  • John M. HoustonEmail author
  • Jennifer S. Queen
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-24612-3_1615



Competition is defined in psychology as a social situation in which individuals believe their goals are negatively related to others’ goals. Accordingly, one person’s progress is perceived as interfering with and making it less likely that others will reach their goals (Deutsch 1949, 2006).


As a situational variable, the psychological definition of competition emphasizes the perceived incompatibility of individual or group goals. However, whether real or imagined, environments perceived as competitive or having a win/lose framework influence both individual and group behavior (Levi 2017). While much of the early research on competition emerged from social psychology (the Latin root – competere means to meet or come together), competition is now an important research topic in a number of applied fields. Currently, research on competition ranges from the evolution of cognition and behavior using the...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyRollins CollegeWinter ParkUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Glenn Scheyd
    • 1
  1. 1.Nova Southeastern UniversityFort LauderdaleUSA