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Competition and Cooperation

Chapter 5: Competition and Cooperation

Session Outline
Defining competition and cooperation Competition as a process Psychological studies of competition and cooperation

Social factors influencing competition and cooperation


Session Outline (continued)

Is competition good or bad? Enhancing cooperation Balancing cooperative and competitive efforts

Competition and Cooperation Defined (Coakley, 1994)

Competition: A social process that occurs when rewards are given to people for how their performance compares with the performances of others during the same task or when participating in the same event. Cooperation: A social process through which performance is evaluated and rewarded in terms of the collective achievement of a group of people working together to reach a particular goal.

The Competitive Process

The Competition Process

Stage 1: An objective competitive situation is a situation in which performance is compared with some standard of excellence in the presence of at least one other person who is aware of the comparison. Stage 2: The subjective competitive situation is how the person perceives, accepts, and appraises the objective competitive situation (influenced by personality factors such as competitiveness).

The Competition Process (continued)

Stage 3: Response is whether a person approaches or avoids an objective competitive situation (at the behavioral, physiological, and psychological levels). Stage 4: Consequences are usually seen as positive or negative, and are equated with success and failure respectively. However, the athletes perception of the consequences is more important than the objective outcome.

3 Types of Competitive Orientations

Sport Orientation Questionnaire (SOQ) Gill & Deeter (1988)

Win Orientation

Goal Orientation

Psychological Studies of Competition and Cooperation

Tripletts cyclists: Cyclists were faster in competition than alone racing against the clock.

Deutschs puzzles: Competition-group students were self-centered, directed efforts at beating others, had closed communication, and exhibited group conflict and distrust; cooperation-group students communicated openly, shared information, developed friendships, and solved more puzzles.

Psychological Studies of Competition and Cooperation

Cooperation as opposed to competition produces superior performance, although results may depend on the nature of the task. Competition can serve as a positive source of motivation to improve and refine skills.

Psychological Studies on Experimental Games

Prisoners dilemma: Competitors draw cooperators into competition Sherif and Sherif (1969) summer camp studies: Competition can be reduced through cooperative efforts to achieve superordinate goals.

Psychological Studies of Competition and Aggression

Competition is not good or bad; it is neutral. Whether it leads to aggression or cooperation depends on the social environment and the way the performers view competition.

Psychological Studies on Competitive Sport and Success in Life

Athletes in educational programs have higher educational aspirations than nonathletes. Athletes have no more or less career success than nonathletes. Athletes are no more or less deviant than nonathletes.

Is Competition Good or Bad?

Competition is neither inherently good nor bad.

It is neither productive nor destructive.

It is a neutral process; the environment determines its effects to a great degree.

Competition and Cooperation as Complementary Concepts

Competition and cooperation are not polar opposites.

The dynamics of how competition and cooperation complement one another should be taught.
Top performers employ a blend of competition and cooperation strategies.

Unorganised, Unstructured Sport

(Coakley, 1997)

Action, esp. leading to scoring Personal involvement in the action Closely matched teams Opportunities to reaffirm friendships during the game

Attributes Related to Both Competition and Cooperation

A sense of mission Strong work ethic Use of resources A strong preparation ethic A love of challenge and change Great teamwork
(Garfield, 1986)

Enhancing Cooperation: Component Structure of Games

Competitive meanscompetitive ends: For example, King of the Mountain, 100-yard dash Cooperative meanscompetitive ends: For example, soccer, basketball


Enhancing Cooperation: Component Structure of Games (continued)

Individual meansindividual ends: For example, calisthenics, cross-country skiing Cooperative meansindividual ends: For example, helping each other individually improve Cooperative meanscooperative ends: For example, keeping a volleyball from hitting ground

Enhancing Cooperation: Cooperative Games

Cooperative games emphasize both cooperative means and cooperative ends.

Cooperation can be taught through cooperative games.

Cooperative games can be devised by changing the rules of traditional games.

Enhancing Cooperation: General Principles of Cooperative Games

Maximize participation. Maximize opportunities to learn sport and movement skills. Do not keep score. Maximize opportunities for success. Give positive feedback. Provide opportunities for youngsters to play different positions.

Guidelines for Balancing Competition and Cooperation

Blend competition and cooperation when teaching and coaching physical skills.

Individualize instruction to meet each persons needs.

Structure games for children to include both competitive and cooperative elements.


Guidelines for Balancing Competition and Cooperation (continued)

When competition leads to fierce rivalry, use superordinate goals to get the groups together. Provide positive feedback and encouragement to students and athletes regardless of the outcomes of the competition.

Guidelines for Balancing Competition and Cooperation (continued)

Stress cooperation to produce trust and open communication.

Provide opportunities for both the learning of sport skills and the practice of these skills in competition.

Competitive vs Cooperative Environments (Duda & Hall, 2001; Duda & Whitehead, 1998)
Cooperative Environment Individual progress Effort Progress, effort Part of learning Challenge, personal best Personal progress, learning Developmental learning Dimension How success is defined What is valued How a person is evaluated How mistakes are viewed Why activity is engaged in What a person is focused on What the leader is focused on Competitive Environment Doing better than others Ability Score, winning Failure Extrinsic rewards, recognition Comparison to others Normative comparisons