Regular readers of this blog may have picked up on hints that I’m not a very sporty person. I don’t even really like watching sport. Sometimes when the sports news comes on, I switch channels and watch adverts until it’s over, because honestly, I find cleaning products marginally more interesting. The XKCD cartoon below explains my feelings on this much better than I can. I know admitting this makes me a social pariah. Readers who like sport, please do not judge me too harshly.
I couldn’t therefore help but feel a tinge of smugness when I read a recent working paper from Jeremy Celse at the University of Montpellier, who investigated the reactions of sporty people to unfavourable social comparisons. It turns out that sporty people get all competitive and react more negatively to unfavourable social comparisons, and would rather reduce other people’s income just to feel better about themselves.
What the paper doesn’t tell us is whether taking part in sport leads you to focus much more on how well you’re doing relative to other people, which then spills over into increased proneness to jealousy in general – or whether people prone to be jealous are more likely to take part in sport, perhaps because having a competitive streak makes you better at it.
You can read the full paper, “Damaging the perfect image of athletes: How sport promotes envy” here: http://www.lameta.univ-montp1.fr/Documents/DR2011-16.pdf