I would agree, but I think relatively few people start out with this. For some people, they hear about a community and something connects with them that in turn drives motivation. May of those people end up being long-standing community members who deliver significant and sustained contributions.
For many people though, they don’t have that internal drive, and therefore they need encouragement, support, and rewards, which is where I think gamification helps.
Unless I am missing something, I don’t think there is a lot of research to back this up, but instead a lot of opinion.
There is little doubt that some people see other people gaining badges as a means to feel disheartened and disenfranchised. To be honest though, and this is a controversial point, I think you are better off without those people.
Those people are too influenced by social pressure and their own sense of ego that at some point they will likely become a problem in terms of entitlement. You don’t want to be babysitting your community members.