Competition constitutes a primary facet of life, as individuals within any species strive to satisfy their needs for survival, reproduction, and successful rearing of offspring. For humans, social competition between genetically unrelated individuals of similar age is particularly salient in cultures with formal schooling and public institutions where individuals cooperate apart from families. Drawing on the child development and animal behavior literatures, this entry discusses the influences of biology, sex, culture, social structure, and age on competition between unrelated peers.

Biological substrates of competitive behavior in humans that have been identified include testosterone, cortisol, and alpha-amlyase. For example, in human males, testosterone increases in response to a competitive challenge. Winners' testosterone levels increase, whereas losers' levels decrease. Higher testosterone levels then promote positive expectations of future ...

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