What Is 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

How Do You Measure Your Self-Worth?

Basing your self-worth on the wrong things is like building your house on an unsteady foundation. Pay attention to how you measure your value.

This Independence Day, Free Yourself from Body Criticism

We are so much more than the sum of our physical parts. This Independence Day, let’s give ourselves a break from the cycle of comparison, and relax in our skin, cellulite and all.
Mixmike/iStock

Dealing With Disappointment

By Tara Well Ph.D. on June 25, 2017 in The Clarity
Disappointment can be an opportunity to get clarity on what you really want — get it!

Online Matchmaking: Where Benevolence Outshines Beauty

The order in which you view online daters' profiles determines how attractive you will find them. Emotionally responsive profiles can be more alluring than attractive photos.

An Eye for a Wandering Eye: Avoiding Promiscuous Partners

Does your partner enjoy meeting new people? Does he or she work the room at business events? Interaction dynamics reveal whether your partner is pursuing business or pleasure.

Why You Might Forgive Kathy Griffin: “My Bad” V. “I´m Sorry"

Public offenders can be forgiven. Yet is the mea culpa art or artifice? Public apologies that admit guilt, express remorse, and seek forgiveness are more likely to be accepted.

Can Envy Ever Be a Positive Emotion?

By David Ludden Ph.D. on May 12, 2017 in Talking Apes
Envy lets us know about our rank in the pecking order. But how we respond determines whether the outcome will be destructive or help us become better people.

Fight or Flight: What Causes Air Rage? The Surprising Answer

Fighting inflight is a dangerous "new normal." Understanding air rage through addressing aired grievances can enhance the ability of airlines to restore the friendly skies.

How to Choose a Long-Term Romantic Partner

There are probably “50 ways to leave your lover,” but far fewer ways to choose the one who will stay with you for the long term.
Carl Pickhardt Ph. D.

Adolescence and Braving the Displeasure of Parents

Parents tends to find the adolescent more displeasing than the child because the teenager is now pushing for more room to grow in ways they may disapprove and find disappointing.

Wanting Less, So Long As Others Don't Get More

If others get more, would we prefer to get nothing?

Climate Change: How to Prevent Workplace Harassment

The workplace is our home away from home; let´s work together to keep it predator-free. Here are some methods of preventing sexual harassment from becoming sexual assault.
Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Love Thy Enemy... as a Public Relations Blessing

By Steven Berglas Ph.D. on February 23, 2017 in Executive Ego
Rather than fear what your enemies say, if they act like buffoons cry, "Send in the clowns."

Should You See Fifty Shades for Valentine's Day?

By Sadie Leder Elder, Ph.D. on February 12, 2017 in A Lesson Plan for Love
Should you go see Fifty Shades this Valentine's Day? It is prudent to consider how this deliciously salacious movie may impact your relationship, for better or worse.
austinadams/Shutterstock

Is Self-Love Healthy or Narcissistic?

By Tara Well Ph.D. on February 10, 2017 in The Clarity
Can you love yourself without being a narcissist? Research shows you how.

Use Your Holiday Party to Make (Not Break) Your Career

By Wendy L. Patrick, Ph.D. on December 08, 2016 in Why Bad Looks Good
You work hard all year long. Come the holidays, here is how to make your holiday party work for you!

Two of the Most Dangerous Words of the Season: “Hosted Bar”

By Wendy L. Patrick, Ph.D. on December 06, 2016 in Why Bad Looks Good
At your holiday party, keep the focus on your host instead of the hosted bar.

The Psychology of Social Media

By Azadeh Aalai Ph.D. on November 14, 2016 in The First Impression
What does the empirical literature reveal regarding social media consumption?
Shutterstock/Antonio Guillem

Shocked by the Presidential Election Results?

By Tara Well Ph.D. on November 13, 2016 in The Clarity
Research on the false consensus effect shows believing others agree with us can lead to a false sense of security.

Do Trump´s Large Rallies Produce Momentum Over Math?

By Wendy L. Patrick, Ph.D. on November 07, 2016 in Why Bad Looks Good
Donald Trump boasts large crowds at his massive rallies. Yet given the state of current polling results, Trump´s problem is not momentum, it is math.

Is Facebook the New Rorschach?

While Facebook is certainly not a valid and reliable projective testing instrument used by psychologists, it is a projective test nonetheless.

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.