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Competition Promotes Selfishness

Updated on July 21, 2015

A Selfish World

The world is a never ending contest between individuals for territory, resources prestige, recognition, awards or social status. It arises when two parties strive for a goal which cannot be shared. Competition occurs naturally between living beings which co-exist in the same environment. For example, animals compete over water supplies, food and mates. Humans compete for food and mates, though when these needs are met deep rivalries often arise over wealth, prestige, and fame. Competition is also a major asset of market economies and different firms often compete with one another over the same group of customers, and also competition inside a company is usually for meeting and reaching higher quality of services or products that the company produce or develop. So where there is competition, between friends or strangers, there will always be an act of selfishness.

So does competition promotes selfishness? The jury is still out on whether we are fundamentally generous or selfish and whether these tendencies are shaped by our genes or environment. Recent studies in the fields of psychology have shown that working together over a particular task often results in success and the reward which one get is shared but people who work alone are more successful and gain more individually as compared to people working in a group. The researchers found that being selfish was more advantageous than cooperating. The benefit may be short-lived; however another study showed that players who cooperated did better in the long run. Maybe this nature of the human consciousness crafted over years promotes selfishness in a competition.

Champion at last.
Champion at last.

So what do you think, should we promote competition ?

See results

Minus Competiton

We have all heard of the “good stuff” which competition brings out in academic progress but does anyone talk about those students who weren’t capable of meeting the mark? Academic competition is advantageous when it challenges students to work harder on their studies and helps them get excited about academic content but then again can be disadvantageous for students when it leads to fear, anxiety and disappointment. Students might worry that they won't measure up or will disappoint their teachers or parents. Many systems are opting to do away with arts programs in schools. If they are not being cut by the school system, some parents insist their children take academic classes and forego arts programs so that they can keep up in the highly competitive environment many of our schools now have. Of course, a very valid argument is that school is a place for academics. I am not suggesting otherwise, but many students gain huge benefits from participating in arts programs, such as increased self-esteem and enjoyment of school. As if this was not enough, most of our teachers at times differentiate between students on the behalf of their grades. This makes them jealous, selfish and leaves a very negative mark against those who perform well academically.

Competition is not always positive. It can create unhealthy rivalries that result in workers resenting one another, which is especially true if one person or team always wins the competitions. This can result in a gap between the "haves" and "have not’s" that may prove to be unhealthy in internal work relations. Competition can also create undue stress that may actually prove to be counterproductive to some worker's efforts. Some workers don't perform well under pressure and are actually more productive when the work environment allows for a more easygoing approach to getting work done. Fierce competition may also result in a "win at all costs" attitude that may even bring out the worst in some workers

To love is to suffer..

Why are we judgmental towards a certain group of people? Is it because they are more successful than us? Everything is fair in love and war, competition nevertheless. There are two sides to every story, people who are regarded selfish, are selfish for their own wellbeing. They want to succeed in life; they love themselves and are ready to do anything to accomplish a better living. Aren’t we all doing the same? It’s just that our methods are different and accepted in the society whereas their methods being against the virtuous human psychology are classified as selfish.

Competition promotes selfishness? In a way yes, since it promotes I me and myself attitude. Gandhi speaks of egoistic competition. For him, such qualities glorified and left unbridled, can lead to violence, conflict, discord and destructiveness. For Gandhi, competition comes from the ego, and therefore society must be based on mutual love, cooperation and sacrifice for the well-being of humanity. In the society desired by Gandhi, each individual will cooperate and serve for the welfare of others and people will share each other's joys, sorrows and achievements as a norm of a social life. For him, in a non-violent society, competition does not have a place and this should become realized with more people making the personal choice to have fewer tendencies toward egoism and selfishness


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    • Farhan Ali Butt profile imageAUTHOR

      Farhan Ali 

      3 years ago from Lahore,Pakistan

      Definitely not !

    • serenityjmiller profile image

      Serenity Miller 

      3 years ago from Brookings, SD

      Interesting topic. Maybe the underlying issues concern our definitions of what it means to "succeed" or "benefit," as individuals and as a community. If an individual is prospering while a community starves, is that success?


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