The prevailing belief is that competition is good for everyone – that being competitive is human nature. But is it human nature, or is it learned behavior?
Alfie Kohn, in No Contest: The Case Against Competition, cites studies showing that, given a choice, most preschoolers prefer cooperative activities to competitive ones. And in a New York Times essay, Nicholas Kristof told a funny story about trying to teach the traditional game of Musical Chairs to a group of five-year-old Japanese children, who kept politely stepping out of the way so their peers could sit in their chairs! Surely that makes a strong case for the argument that competition is learned behavior!