Social Comparison Theories: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Social Comparison Theories

1st Edition

Edited by Diederik A. Stapel, Hart Blanton

Psychology Press

552 pages

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Paperback: 9781841690919
pub: 2006-12-15
Hardback: 9781841690902
pub: 2006-12-15

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Self-perception and behavior do not occur in a social vacuum: who we are, and what we do, is often a function of what other people are and do. Others can inform us of who we are ("I am the only sane person here"), or where we stand ("I am quite intelligent compared to him"); others can inspire us ("I want to be like her"), or discourage us ("I can never be like her"). In effect, social comparison is a fundamental process of self-conception through the perception of others-self, as it is identified with others.

Social Comparison Theories: Key Readings offers a core and comprehensive collection of readings that focus on the motivations and mechanisms underlying social comparison effects, the role of social comparison processes in everyday life, the similarities and differences between interpersonal and inter-group social comparisons, and the strategies people employ to disregard detrimental social comparison outcomes. This volume of works shows the wide range of topics that concern social comparisons researchers and also the shared beliefs that bind them together.

Table of Contents

Blanton, Stapel, Introduction to the History of Social Comparison. Part 1. Festinger.Festinger, Informal Social Communication (Psychological Review). Festinger, A Theory of Social Comparison Processes (Human Relations). Part 2. Comparison Motives: Classic Statements.Goethals, Darley, Social Comparison Theory: An Attributional Approach (in Suls & Miller (Eds.), Social Comparison Processes: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives). Brickman, Janoff Bulman, Pleasure and Pain in Social Comparison Theory (in Suls & Miller (Eds.), Social Comparison Processes: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives). Taylor, Lobel, Social Comparison Activity Under Threat: Downward Evaluation and Upward Contacts (Psychological Review). Tesser, Toward a Self-Evaluation Maintenance Model of Social Behavior (in Baumeister (Ed.), The Self in Social Psychology). Part 3. Threats and Inspiration. Buunk, Collins, Taylor, Dakof, Van Yperen, The Affective Consequences of Social Comparisons: Either Direction Has Its Ups and Downs (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Lockwood, Kunda, Superstars and Me: Predicting the Impact of Role Models on the Self (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Alicke, LoSchiavo, Zerbst, Zhang, The Person Who Outperforms Me Is A Genius: Maintaining Perceived Competence in Upward Social Comparison (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Gibbons, Benbow, Gerrard, From Top Dog to Bottom Half: Social Comparison Strategies in Response to Poor Performance (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Part 4. Breakdowns in Comparison.Weinstein, Unrealistic Optimism About Future Life Events (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Klein, Objective Standards Are Not Enough: Affective, Self-Evaluative, and Behavioral Responses to Social Comparison Information (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Moore, Kim, Myopic Social Prediction and the Solo Comparison Effect (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Schroeder, Prentice, Exposing Pluralistic Ignorance to Reduce Alcohol Use Among College Students (Journal of Applied Social Psychology). Part 5. Implications in Everyday Life. Nosanchuck, Erickson, How High Is Up? Calibrating Social Comparison in the Real World (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology).Marsh, Hau, Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect on Academic Self-Concept: A Cross-Cultural (26-Country) Test of the Negative Effects of Academically Selective Schools (American Psychologist). Hagerty, Social Comparisons of Income in One's Community: Evidence from National Surveys of Income and Happiness (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Tiedens, Fragale, Power Moves: Complementarity in Dominant and Submissive Nonverbal Behavior (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Part 6. Social Identity and Reference Group Comparisons. Tajfel, Turner, The Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behavior (in Worchel & William, Psychology of Intergroup Relations). Miller, Turnbull, McFarland, Particularistic and Universalistic Evaluation in the Social Comparison Process (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Crandall, Social Contagion of Binge Eating (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Major, Forcey, Social Comparisons and Pay Evaluations: Preferences for Same-Sex and Same-Job Wage Comparisons (Journal of Experimental Social Psychology). Blanton, Christie, Dye, Social Identity versus Reference Frame Comparisons: The Moderating Role of Stereotype Endorsement (Journal of Experimental Social Psychology). Part 7. Social Cognition. Gilbert, Giesler, Morris, When Comparisons Arise (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Stapel, Koomen,I, We, and the Effects of Others on Me: How Self-Construal Level Moderates Social Comparison Effects (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Mussweiler, Strack, The "Relative Self": Informational and Judgmental Consequences of Comparative Self-Evaluation (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Jordan, Zanna, Appendix. How to Read a Journal Article in Social Psychology.

About the Editors

Diederik A. Stapel is Professor of Consumer Science and Director of the Tilburg Institute for Behavioral Economics Research (TIBER) at Tilburg University, in the Netherlands. He is associate editor of Psychological Science, the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, a former associate editor of the British Journal of Social Psychology, and has served on the editorial boards of Self and Identity, the European Journal of Social Psychology, and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. For his research on knowledge accessibility effects, he earned the Jos Jaspars Award of the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology. Stapel’s publications concern judgment and decision making and unconscious affective and evaluative processes.

Hart Blanton is Associate Professor of Psychology at Texas A&M University. He is associate editor of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology; on the editorial boards for Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and Self and Identity; and has served on the editorial board of Psychology and Health. For his work on Deviance

Regulation Theory, a comparison-based theory of behavioral self-regulation, he received the 2002 Theoretical Innovation Award from the Society of Personality and Social Psychology. Blanton’s publications concern individual and group comparison processes, behavioral self-regulation, normative social influence, research methods, and the measurement of implicit attitudes.

About the Series

Key Readings in Social Psychology

Given the need to be selective and to provide a coherent perspective on each theme within a single book, the editors have generally tackled a difficult brief extremely well. The breadth and depth make a volume suitable for use in many final-year and masters-degree courses in social psychology. It also provides an ideal introduction to top-level original research articles that should motivate students to pursue the current literature in a more targeted way. […] This is an excellent series that will provide an invaluable compendium of the themes that have dominated the 20th Century.” - Diane Houston, University of Kent, in the Times Higher Education Supplement

The aim of the series is to make available to senior undergraduate and graduate students key articles in each area of social psychology in an attractive, user-friendly format.

Many professors want to encourage their students to engage directly with research in their fields, yet this can often be daunting for students coming to detailed study of a topic for the first time.

Moreover, declining library budgets mean that articles are not always readily available, and course packs can be expensive and time-consuming to produce.

Key Readings in Social Psychology aims to address this need by providing comprehensive volumes, each one of which is edited by a senior and active researcher in the field.

Articles are carefully chosen to illustrate the way the field has developed historically as well as current issues and research directions.

Each volume has a similar structure that includes:

  • An overview chapter, as well as introduction to sections and articles;
  • Questions for class discussion;
  • Annotated bibliographies;
  • Full author and subject indices;
  • The article How to Read a Journal Article in Social Psychology, especially prepared for this series by Christian H. Jordan and Mark P. Zanna

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Social Psychology