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The Psychology of Rivalry

  • Author(s): Kilduff, Gavin J
  • Advisor(s): Staw, Barry M
  • Anderson, Cameron
  • et al.
Abstract

In this dissertation, I explore the psychological phenomenon of rivalry, defined as a competitive relationship that increases the psychological stakes of competition independent of the objective stakes. In particular, I investigate the consequences of rivalry for motivation, performance, and unethical behavior. I examine these questions with a variety of research designs and methodologies, including laboratory experiments, surveys, a field experiment, and an archival data analysis. Overall, this work represents the first systematic exploration of rivalry as a psychological phenomenon, and my findings suggest that it can be a double-edged sword, with both positive and negative consequences. Further, this research suggests a view of competition as relationally-dependent - that is, the behavior of actors within competitive settings depends upon whom they are competing against, and the relationships they have with these competitors. Beyond these two broad contributions, this research speaks to the literatures on motivation and ethical decision-making, and also suggests some important practical implications. In addition, a wide range of important and interesting directions exist for future research on rivalry.

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