Why You Need a Rival

November 28, 2001

You’re jealous of her extensions. You compete with her for the same roles. You wish you didn’t resent her as much as you do, but when she gets that smug look on her face after your director gives her a compliment, you can’t help it.


Don’t worry: Having a rival in the studio isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, she can actually push you to become a better dancer. A new study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that when people were criticized by a rival, it lit a fire under their behind to prove that person wrong—and they ended up performing better afterward. Use your competitive drive to focus your energy and help you work even harder. But don’t surround yourself only with enemies: Researchers found the rival effect worked best when a friend followed up the criticism with positive support.