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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Competition Breeds Desire

  • Author(s): Larsen, BA
  • Ryazanov, AA
  • Gravano, JT
  • Christenfeld, NJS
  • et al.

© 2015, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Desire spurs competition; here we explore whether the converse is also true. In one study, female quartets (N = 58) completed anagrams, with the winner to receive compact speakers; controls anagrammed without competition. In the other study, female quartets (N = 74) described their ideal first date to a male judge, who chose the best description; controls read to him others' date descriptions without competition. In both studies, creating competition increased desire and altered how much participants wanted, but not how much they liked, the competed-for thing. Competition may activate a general “wanting system,” producing overvaluing in settings from stock markets to partner selection.

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