Social Comparison Theories
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.
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.