Individual differences |
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Many philosophers and psychologists have identified a trait in most living organisms which drive the particular organism to compete. This trait, called competitiveness, is viewed as an innate biological trait which coexists along with the urge for survival. Competitiveness, or the inclination to compete, though, has become synonymous with aggressivity and ambition in the English language. More advanced civilizations integrate aggressivity and competitiveness into their social interactions as a way to distribute resources and adapt. Most plants compete for higher spots on trees to receive more sunlight.
The tendency toward extreme, unhealthy competition has been termed hypercompetitive. This concept originated in Karen Horney's theories on neurosis, specifically the highly aggressive personality type which is characterized as "moving against people." In her view, some people have a need to compete and win at any cost as a means of maintaining their self-worth. These individuals are likely to turn any activity into a competition, and they will feel threatened if they find themselves losing. Researchers have found that men and women who score high on the trait of hypercompetitiveness are more narcissistic and less psychologically healthy than those who score low on the trait (Ryckman et al. 1994). Hypercompetitive individuals generally believe that "winning isn't everything; it's the only thing."