Social Comparison Theory
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 we perceive as somehow faring better or worse. We sometimes compare ourselves to others as a way of fostering self-improvement, self-motivation, and a positive self-image. As a result, we are constantly evaluating ourselves and others across a variety of domains, such as attractiveness, wealth, intelligence, and success. These evaluations can also promote judgmental, biased, and overly competitive or superior attitudes. Most of us have the social skills and impulse control to keep our envy and standards for social comparison quiet, but our true feelings may come out in other ways. Some research shows that people who regularly compare themselves to others often experience negative feelings of deep dissatisfaction, guilt, and remorse, and engage in destructive behaviors, like lying and disordered eating.