Motivations in a Competition
by Ron Kurtus (revised 2 June 2012)
There are several motivations or reasons people have to seek to win a competition.
A primary reason is to try to prove who is superior or the best. Being superior has implications in being about to get rewards from others, even much after the contest is complete.
Another motivation is to gain a prize that goes to the winner of the contest. Finally, the incentive to compete is the satisfaction gained from enjoyment of the game and being able to push yourself to your limits.
Questions you may have include:
- What can happen when you prove yourself superior?
- What are the prizes sought?
- What satisfactions are there from competing?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Proving yourself superior
A great motivation in trying to win a competition is to prove who is superior. If you are the winner, you have shown you are better than your opponents—at least in this particular activity.
The fallout of being superior can be the establishment of status or pecking order, as well as the admiration of other people. The victory enhances your confidence in being able to win again. Your self-esteem and feeling of worth is increased.
The superior person will often be the leader, will be paid better at work and will get special treatment from others. Among animals, the winner of fights can become the "alpha animal" and get the choice of food and mates over the others in its group.
Trying to show you are superior is one of the greatest drives people have. It is also seen in most animals.
Prize or reward
Many competitions are to see who gets a prize given to the winner of the contest. The prize may be money, a trophy or even enough food for survival.
Likewise, businesses compete for sales and profits. The more successful company will get more, but there is no end game, where one is declared the winner and the others are the losers. Business is an ongoing competition. Some success, while other fall by the wayside.
There are many competitions where the prize is money. Common examples are to get a business contract or get hired for a job. You could also try to win wagers in gambling competitions. Professional boxers not only compete to show who is superior, but they also are seeking the prize money that goes to the victor.
In war, the prize is land and the wealth of the conquered country. But some of that is also to express power. When you win a competition for the affection of a person of the opposite sex, you are then claiming that person as your personal property.
Many competitions are for a trophy or medal, as seen in the Olympic Games.
Wild animals compete for food and water, especially if it is in short supply. The winner of the competition will get the "lion's share" of the food, while others will get what is left over. The only times when there is a true loser is when there is no food left or when the animal is food for another.
A big reason that people compete is that it is often fun to do. Your dog may compete with you in a tug-of-war, simply because it is fun to do.
Competing against a child or incompetent opponent may allow you to prove yourself superior, but it typically does not result in much satisfaction. What is fun is to compete against someone who will push you to your limits.
If you perform to the best of your abilities and win the contest, it is greatly satisfying. In fact, if you play a superior opponent and perform to the best of your abilities but yet still lose the game, there still is a great amount of satisfaction.
Of course, it is more fun to win than to lose. And there are competitions where losing can be quite painful. But being able to perform well is a big reward in competing.
Motivations or reasons people have to win a competition are to prove who is superior or the best, to gain a prize that goes to the winner of the contest and to gain satisfaction from the game and being able to push yourself to your limits.
Define your goals
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Motivations in a Competition