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Getting along to get ahead: Predictors of success in an online competitive social environment
AuthorCurtis, Shelby Rae
AdvisorJones, Daniel N
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Success in competitive social contexts is generally attributed to agenticinterpersonal behavior and accomplishments (Anderson & Morrow, 1995). However, unmitigated agency, or the pursuit of agentic award at the expense of communal relationships, also leads to poor health outcomes and interpersonal problems (Helgeson & Fritz, 1999). Competitive social contexts are environments in which people must work together to succeed, but are also rewarded as individuals. For example, many workplace environments encourage teamwork, but advance employees on an individual basis (Kerr, 1975). Further, advancement is often dependent on the opinions of coworkers as well as supervisors. Thus, I propose that a balance of both agentic and communal interpersonal styles must be present for success (see Bakan, 1966). Concurrent predictors of success should include successful use of social bonding, impression management tactics, and individual differences in political skill and Machiavellianism. I analyzed player data from 35 seasons of Stranded, an online reality game that mirrors the format of the television show Survivor. 21 of these seasons had full archives, and self-report data was collected from 100 former players. Players were more likely to vote for the winner of the season to win when they had a strong overlapping relationship of communication throughout the game. When comparing winners to losing finalists, winners had higher levels of political skill. Further, finalists were more likely to win when their messages to players included more analytic thinking and emotional tone words than their natural linguistic patterns. However, across all players, predicted game placement decreased when messages included more analytical thinking. Overall, political skill also predicted higher game placements.