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

Should You See Fifty Shades for Valentine's Day?

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.

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?