Magazine article Psychology Today

Best Foes Forever

Magazine article Psychology Today

Best Foes Forever

Article excerpt

The risk of being outdone by a rival can push you further. Gavin Kilduff, who researches competition at New York University, found hard evidence in the results of long-distance runners. When sharing the course with a similar competitor lof the same gender and age group) who had repeatedly run the same races and achieved comparable times-all factors associated with rivalry-runners tended to cross the finish line sooner. Another study showed that college basketball players blocked more shots when facing known rivals.

Rivals may become less cautious in trying to best each other. Researchers at the University of Virginia asked fantasy baseball players to solve word problems designed to elicit a seemingly easy but wrong answer. Players who first wrote about wanting to beat a league rival tended to fall for more of the traps. Rivalry calls to mind one's long-term reputation, psychologist Benjamin Converse and Ph. …

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