Social comparison: Why, with whom, and with what effect?

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


NLM Title Abbreviation

Curr Dir Psychol Sci

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Current Directions in Psychological Science

DOI of Published Version



Social comparison consists of comparing oneself with others in order to evaluate or to enhance some aspects of the self. Evaluation of ability is concerned with the question "Can I do X?" and relies on the existence of a proxy performer. A proxy's relative standing on attributes vis-a-vis comparer and whether the proxy exerted maximum effort on a preliminary task are variables influencing his or her informational utility. Evaluation of opinions is concerned with the questions "Do I like X?" "Is X correct?" and "Will I like X?". Important variables that affect an individual's use of social comparison to evaluate his or her opinions are the other person's expertise, similarity with the individual, and previous agreement with the individual. Whether social comparison serves a self-enhancement function depends on whether the comparison assimilates or contrasts his or her self-knowledge made cognitively accessible and variables such as mutability of self-views and distinctiveness of the comparison target may be important determinants of assimilation versus contrast.

Published Article/Book Citation

Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11:5 (2002) pp.159-163. DOI:doi: 10.1111/1467-8721.00191.

This document is currently not available here.