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

8 Warning Signs Your Lover is a Narcissist

The Mayo Clinic research group defines narcissistic personality disorder as “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration." How do you know when your romantic partner may be a narcissist? Here are eight telltale signs...

8 Negative Attitudes of Chronically Unhappy People

All of us experience negative thoughts from time to time. How we manage our negative attitudes can make the difference between confidence versus fear, hope versus despair, mastery versus victimhood, and victory versus defeat. Here are eight negative attitudes of chronically unhappy people...

Star Struck: Blinded by the Limelight

Before you roll out the red carpet, take steps to investigate whether the famous people you admire are as good as they look. Many are . . . many are not. You cannot tell by looking, because ironically, with celebrity status, the spotlight hides imperfections, rather than reveals them.

Reality Television: Behind the Obsession

By Anastasia Harrell on November 25, 2014 in The View From Venus
Our growing fascination (read: obsession) with reality television and our apparent attachment to its stars may be a reflection of our shifting definition of friendship.

Everybody Else is Cheating, Right? Not Necessarily

By Gwendolyn Seidman Ph.D. on September 22, 2014 in Close Encounters
Our perceptions of the acceptability of infidelity could influence our likelihood to cheat. And those perceptions are likely to be wrong.

Keeping Up With Appearances

By A Guest Blogger on May 09, 2014 in Brainstorm
More time on Facebook is associated with higher levels of disordered eating.

The High Cost of Vanity

The clothes we wear reflect our personalities. If you’re drawn to clothes that carry with them recognizable and often pricey logos, it may be time to examine why. The combination of vanity and narcissism can prove costly to your wallet. By understanding the forces that drive you to overspend, you can gain better control of your wallet, if not your self-esteem.

Do You Have Valentine’s Day Distress?

As we approach Valentine’s Day many are likely to reflect on their love life (or lack of love life) and then compare their relationship satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with others. Observing loving and romantic posts on Facebook might make those without a satisfactory love life (who want one) pretty depressed and distressed. Social comparison theory can help you cope.

Branding Yourself: Like Reblog Like

How we use social tools to leverage our self-brands and why this could lead to negative consequences for your mental health.

Understanding Envy With Social Comparison Theory

Top often we want to present ourselves to the world in a positive and successful manner but social comparison theory predicts that others often respond to our good news and efforts for success with envy. What should you do about this tension in relationships when your good news is met with envy among others?

Success: What Is It and How Do I Get It?

You need to be very careful about your exposure to media (including social media) if you want to manage your social comparisons, happiness, and notions of success.

Got Happiness? Social Comparison Theory Can Help!

Let social comparison theory work for you. As they say, knowledge is power and your happiness in life may be enhanced if you can better manage your upward and downward social comparisons.

Envy and the Glamorous Life: The Academy Awards Are Here!

Enjoy the academy awards but don’t compare your life to those featured on the big (or small) screen. If you count your blessings, are grateful for your own life, and embrace the good in it even if you don’t win an academy award you’ll be a star for sure!

Turning a Culture of Violence into a Culture of Compassion

Suppose we lived in a culture where we very rarely saw violence in movies and television? Suppose we lived in a community where politicians and talk show hosts were civil and polite? Suppose video games focused on cooperation rather than violence? Suppose we focused on sports that were less violent and more cooperative?

Getting to Ourselves through Others

By Camille S. Johnson on June 28, 2012 in It's All Relative
Social comparison theory explains much about everyday life.

How You Make Frenemies, and How to Get Rid of Them

As the old adage goes, “You can’t pick your relatives but you can pick your friends.”

The Surprising Price of Success

We all want success in life but often there is a heavy price to pay for it with our family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and peers.

Bliss Tip for “Bone Envy”

By Allison Aboud Holzer M.A.T., M.F.A., on April 16, 2009 in
I recently dog-sat a puppy Pomeranian named Quincy who illustrated to me the darker side of Social Comparison Theory. When Quincy arrived, I immediately gave him a bone to help him feel at ease in my home. My Tibetan spaniel Stella watched inquisitively and immediately made a move to usurp Quincy's prized bone. Noticing her jealousy I tried to solve the problem by providing her with another bone of the same kind. I called her over to give her the new bone and she happily began chomping away. Problem solved? Not exactly...