Sometimes we think it’s a good idea for us to know our competition. Maybe comparing ourselves to others will give us an advantage in knowing what to expect, where we stand, and/or how much effort we need to put into something. The crazy thing is, this form of motivation is actually counter productive. How so, you ask?


This particular topic was actually looked into for the March, 2016 issue of Psychological Science by Todd Rogers and Avi Feller. In one study, they examined 5,000 participants in a “massive open online course” (MOOC). Students were required to write a paper as well as evaluate at least three other papers written by their peers. The study was to see how many students would actually finish the course and receive credit in the end.


Looking at students who read papers by their peers: interestingly, 68% of the students who peer-evaluated average quality essays finished the course; Yet, only 45% of the students who peer-evaluated above average essays finished the class – seeming to be less motivated to finish the class compared to those who evaluated average essays.


Looking at how students were influenced by their own paper graded: 93% of the students who received perfect scores finished the class. 75% of the students who got average scores finished the class.


What this tells us, is that people lost more motivation by reading an above average essay written by someone else compared to getting an average score on their own essay.


Another part of the study had students read two other essays, either excellent or poor. Then they were offered a chance to write another essay to win a prize – also being rated if they felt capable of writing an excellent one. Those who reviewed excellent essays were less likely to participate in writing another essay.


Basically, when we’re comparing ourselves to others, we create a standard in our minds. And sometimes we feel like we can’t measure up to it, making us less motivated to even try, even lowering our self esteem. We’d perform better if we just focused on doing our best and not worrying about where you stand in the competition, believing in our own abilities, talents, and ideas are all we need to be a part of the competition. We don’t need to be creating unnecessary standards or rethinking ourselves. Those who felt discouraged by reading the above average essays, may not have known their own essay would be evaluated as above average as well.


If you or a loved one needs to boost their self esteem or feel like they’re being held back because of insecurities from not feeling good enough, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a medical professional who can offer some advice.