Motivating and reinforcing functions of competitive behavior

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Abstract

Competition has frequently been conceptualized as a performance motivator that spurs individuals on to greater efforts. It is commented that the relative paucity of rigorous theory and systematic research fully exploiting this common assumption is surprising. Employing the general approach that N. E. Miller called “extension of liberalized stimulus-response theory,” a theory of certain aspects of competitive behavior was developed. Findings from 5 experiments with 174 undergraduates are reported. The research centered on an instrumental escape conditioning model from which predictions were derived, tested, and replicated. Findings reveal a point-for-point correspondence between the effects of a reinforcer in escape conditioning and the effects of competition cessation in competitive performance. (51 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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