ADVERTISEMENT
See Inside November / December 2010

Meeting Your Match: The Good and Bad of Competing with a Rival

Feelings of rivalry can change our thoughts and behavior

Even before a game begins, an athlete’s body changes: heart rate increases, hormones surge and beads of sweat dapple the skin. Competition is such a visceral experience that the mere anticipation of a challenge excites our instincts to fight. These biological responses are even more pronounced when people face an opponent they have come to know and despise, an opponent they must battle again and again—a rival. In a 2003 study psychologists at Northumbria University in England found much higher testosterone levels in soccer players preparing to play against a team they considered an extreme rival than in those matched up with a moderate rival.

Rivalry differs from other kinds of competition in its intimacy. It offers contenders a psychological prize people cannot win in other contexts: the chance to beat someone obnoxiously familiar, someone whose abilities and traits are frustratingly matched with their own.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content


It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com.
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:

Comments

You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Blow-Out Sale

Enter code:
HOLIDAY 2014
at checkout

Get 20% off now! >

X

Email this Article

X