What is the Social Comparison Theory?

Social comparison theory states that we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others. As a result, we are constantly making self and other evaluations across a variety of domains (for example, attractiveness, wealth, intelligence, and success). Most of us have the social skills and impulse control to keep our envy and social comparisons quiet but our true feelings may come out in subtle ways.

Recent posts on Social Comparison Theory

Game Day: Trump v. Clinton—Why You Will Watch the Debate

By Wendy L. Patrick Ph.D. on September 25, 2016 in Why Bad Looks Good
Whatever you are doing at 9:00 pm tomorrow night, you might be tempted by the political Big Game. Research shows that out of concern or curiosity, you will likely take a peek.

A Match Made in America: Who Will Dominate the First Debate?

By Wendy L. Patrick Ph.D. on September 20, 2016 in Why Bad Looks Good
Research shows that Trump and Clinton will be judged by what they say, and how they behave when their opponent has the floor—because viewers are voters.

Who (or What) Runs Your World?

By Denise R Friedman Ph.D. on September 10, 2016 in Always More to Learn
Is social media really about mind control? Do you need a digital detox?

Goodness: An Often Underrated but Much Needed Virtue

There are many example of goodness out there. When we see it, it can inspire and motivate us. Perhaps we need to attend to goodness more often and model it as much as we can.

Admit It, You Are Secretly Voting for Donald Trump? Right?

Many people will not follow their expressed views with their vote. These stealth voters will hit the ballot box en masse in November. But will they make a difference?

Damn Foreigners!

By Hank Davis on August 19, 2016 in Caveman Logic
Take off your caveman costume and stop blaming the other tribe for everything that goes wrong in your life.

In Politics, a Closed Mouth Gathers No Foot—or Free Press

Donald Trump is media accessible. Yet for positive press, the key is to appeal to the voting public through the likability and trustworthiness of the reporter, not the candidate.
L Breuning

Why Winning Feels Good

The facts of our brain’s natural competitiveness have been submerged by a warm and fuzzy view of nature. The truth can help us manage our quirky neurochemical operating system.

Trump vs. Clinton and Media Coverage: Do Men Come First?

In politics, research reveals a gender bias, perhaps unintentional, in covering men more than women. But not always. And more coverage does not always translate into more votes.

If the Anchor Likes You So Do I: Likability Is Electability

Why do we have positive or negative impressions of political candidates? The answer might be because of the way they were treated by journalists, especially those whom we trust.

The Perils of Comparing Ourselves to Others

By Juliana Breines Ph.D. on July 31, 2016 in In Love and War
It’s normal to wonder how we measure up in relation to others, but dwelling too much on these judgments has a cost.

Election by Association: Showcasing Successful Surrogates

Clinton cashes in on convention psychology. From endorsements to the selection of convention speakers, indirect image management is a significant part of a political campaign.

The GOP, Convention Turn Taking, and the Primacy Effect

When voters watch competing messages during both conventions, political turn-taking can benefit the party who goes first. This is true even when controlling for partisan bias.

Did the GOP Unconventional Convention Change Your Vote?

In politics, the impact of an initial positive impression endures—even in the face of subsequent negative attacks. The GOP convention may particularly impact partisan voters.

Vetting the Veep: Image Enhancement or Instrument of Attack

Presidential running mate selection involves a courtship designed to facilitate a marriage of convenience—where the Vice President-to-be has several very important roles.

Toward a Photo Finish: A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Votes

A picture is worth a thousand votes. Candidate photos are an integral part of elections because viewers are voters. When casting their ballot, citizens both look and listen.

Voting With Our Eyes: Attractive Candidates Get More Votes

Less informed voters tend to vote with their eyes instead of their minds. Yet when it comes to casting an intelligent vote, knowledge is power. Information overrides appearance.

Other People's Great Vacations Don't Have to Get to You

When you’re stuck at home or in the office while others flaunt their fabulous journeys around the world, it can be tough. This will help you get over your case of vacation envy.

Orlando Shooter´s Homophobia: Ideology or Identity?

Did Omar Mateen´s homophobia reflect outrage or identity? Counterintuitive, yet empirically corroborated, some individuals despise the same community with which they identify.

When Disrespectful is Desirable: Trump-Warren´s War of Words

The 2016 Presidential candidates and their surrogates are name calling their way to the Oval Office. Yet will fiery rhetoric and Twitter rants translate into electibility?

Is There a Bit of Donald Trump in Each of Us?

Does any part of Trump´s fiery, often inappropriate rhetoric express what you were thinking? Playing the Human Card, candidates connect better with common ground than background.

Rocking the Vote: Is Trump Psychology Flash Over Substance?

Does Donald Trump have star power or staying power? Is Trump psychology a case of flash over substance?

How to Fix Dual Ticket Pricing at India's Taj Mahal

Four psychology-based suggestions to change the way tickets are priced will improve every tourist’s experience to this monument.

Taming the Tweet: Why Trump´s Sound Bites Are Headlines

Candidate backgrounds influence their language, personality, and electability. From the courtroom to the boardroom... to the locker room.

Why Dual Ticket Pricing at India’s Taj Mahal is Wrong

Price discrimination done incorrectly victimizes tourists & leaves them feeling humiliated & upset.

Social Comparisons Can Make You Give Up

By Art Markman Ph.D. on April 01, 2016 in Ulterior Motives
Competition can often be motivating. Yet, in ordinary life, social comparisons can also be de-motivating.

Why We Laugh at Others on April Fool's Day

By Paul Dolan Ph.D. on April 01, 2016 in Happiness by Design
Why does laughing at the expense of others bring us so much pleasure and what does it say about our human nature? Here are some key explanations.

Haters Gonna Hate

How self esteem and stereotyping are linked

10 Principles to Maximize Happiness

Attending to these 10 important principles will improve happiness and well-being. Easier said than done of course but if we really want to be happy then we need to try these.

Want to Be Happier? Start With This.

By Art Markman Ph.D. on March 02, 2016 in Ulterior Motives
Your social environment has a big effect on your mood. Does your current level of happiness affect the kinds of people you want to be around?