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Psychol Bull. 2012 Nov;138(6):1071-8; discussion 1079-84. doi: 10.1037/a0029454.

Competition and performance: more facts, more understanding? Comment on Murayama and Elliot (2012).

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Department of Educational Psychology, University of Minnesota, 60 Peik Hall, 159 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Murayama and Elliot (2012) made a significant contribution to the literature on competition by presenting the results of 2 meta-analyses and 3 primary studies on the relation between competition and performance. Murayama and Elliot established that in general, there is no relationship between competition and performance. They then made the case that the lack of relationship is due to 2 opposing processes (performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals) that cancel each other out. The meta-analyses made a significant contribution to the literature on competition but had problems with the way in which the types of competition were defined and the clarity of the control condition. Their opposing processes model suffers from the relatively high relationship between performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals, their failure to include likelihood of success or failure in their model, and the lack of specification of the process through which competition prompts one type of goal or the other. Their results do highlight the need for further research on competition focusing on the combination of personality traits and situational variables.

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