What is social comparison and how should we study it?

  • Wood J
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Discusses the measures and procedures used in studies on social comparison (SC), by reviewing research. A definition of SC is proposed, multiple ancillary processes in SC are identified, and definitional controversies are addressed. Three approaches are used in SC research: the selection approach (examining what social information (SI) participants seek for SC), the reaction approach (examining the impact of SI on participants), and the narration approach (examining participants' reports to determine what SI they have made comparisons with in their everyday lives). Comparative ratings, affiliation measures, and correlational studies of comparison effects have been found to be ambiguous in SC research. Global self-report measures of comparisons should be avoided, less constraining methods should be used, more public discussions should be held and researchers should make their own definitional assumptions explicit.

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  • Social Comparison

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  • PMID: 6732


  • J V Wood

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