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How the “N Effect” Saps Your Competitive Spirit and What to Do About It

  Do you like to be a “lone ranger” who strikes out alone, or do you perform better when there are competitors? If you think you’re the latter, you’re like most people. Traditional wisdom tells us that the most powerful competitive motivation of human beings is comparison between people.
  However, Stephen Garcia, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, pointed out that just being in the same environment with competitors cannot make us have a particularly strong desire to compete. The number of competitors is the factor that directly affects the desire to compete.
  Let’s look at an example. Jessica walked into the classroom, where there were ten other students. She looked around at the competitive environment she was in and felt that she had a good chance of winning. The teacher handed out the test papers, and Jessica was full of energy and wanted to be the best in the class.
  Jason took the exam in another classroom, which was nearly ten times larger than the one Jessica was in. Jason squeezed around to find a seat among more than a hundred students. He looked at the formation and felt terrified in his heart: How could I possibly defeat so many people? Compared with the highly motivated Jessica, Jason obviously lacks competitiveness. This is what psychologists call the “N effect.” The “N effect” refers to the fact that the emergence of many competitors will dampen the enthusiasm of some competitors. The study found that when other influencing factors are exactly the same, there is a significant negative correlation between the number of candidates in the same examination room and their scores: the more candidates there are, the worse the results. In another study, researchers told test takers that the sooner they turned in a test, the better, and then asked whether the test takers turned in earlier when they were competing against ten people or when competing against a hundred people. The results were as expected by the researchers: when competing with ten people, the top candidates completed the test paper significantly faster.
  What can you do to avoid the “N effect”
  from affecting your desire to compete? The solution is to be aware of this effect early and look at it critically before it takes effect. In other words, you force yourself to be more rational than you are without realizing it. For example, if you go for an interview, you will find six candidates waiting in front of you as soon as you enter the lobby. Your first reaction is, this is terrible, my chances of getting this job are probably slim. This kind of thinking will seriously shake your confidence and make your competitiveness disappear.
  If you curb this thought in time: “If I didn’t know that there were so many people coming for the interview, would I suddenly lose motivation? What difference does it actually make if I know or don’t know?” In fact, the only change is The thing is, you realize there are at least six other people competing with you. After realizing this, are your abilities, skills, and experience worse than before? of course not. If we can fully realize our potential, our competitiveness will not be weakened at all. After thinking this way, you will go to the interviewer with your head held high and give your best performance. Sure enough, you did a great job.

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