Three experiments were conducted to demonstrate the role of relative gain (the difference between a subject's score and that of another subject) as opposed to individual gain maximization processes in experimental two-person, two-choice games. In addition to demonstrating that relative gain maximization is an important goal in such situations, it is also shown that the predominant component of this process is associated with the avoidance of outcomes in which the subject receives less than another subject.

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Journal Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Citation
Messick, D.M. (David M), & Thorngate, W. (1967). Relative gain maximization in experimental games. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 3(1), 85–101.