Social comparisons are the most popular way to evaluate other people. However, social comparisons can also boost self-esteem and promote judgmental, biased, and superior attitudes. There are several ways to avoid the negative effects of social comparison. Here are some of them: (1) It promotes judgmental, superior attitudes and (2) It influences the choice of applicants.
Social comparison promotes judgmental, biased, and superior attitudes
Using social comparison to make judgments and form biased attitudes can have both positive and negative effects. Upward social comparisons can be helpful and self-enhancing, while downward social comparisons can be harmful. It all depends on whether the comparison target is similar or dissimilar and whether it is relevant to the self-evaluation process.
In addition to these negative effects, social comparison can lead to feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, and hopelessness. On the other hand, positive social comparisons can enhance self-esteem and foster confidence in social relationships. It has been found that people who are able to recognize the achievements of others in a group tend to have positive attitudes and be more confident in their own capabilities.
The phenomenon of social comparisons is common in everyday social life. It has helped humans survive in today’s increasingly complex social world. However, the cultural basis of social comparisons is still not fully understood. Current research is filling this gap. It suggests that two cultural dimensions contribute to the variation in social comparison proclivity:
Results showed that older adults were less likely to engage in social comparisons than younger adults. However, this did not mean that older adults were less likely to engage in the practice of social comparison. In fact, the results of Larose and Standing’s study indicated that the halo effect is not particularly present in older adults.
It boosts self-evaluation
Downward comparisons with others can help boost self-evaluation and pride. However, this strategy can also lead to negative effects. While downward comparisons are helpful in the short run, they are not always the best strategy for long-term coping with threats to ego. People with low self-evaluation are more likely to experience low subjective well-being.
It is unclear whether this phenomenon can be generalized to the rest of the population, but the research suggests that it can increase self-evaluation in people with low self-esteem. Although it is important to know about different types of self-evaluation, it is important to note that some self-evaluations are gender-specific. While girls’ self-evaluations were based largely on social feedback, boys’ self-evaluation was more influenced by perceived ability and past attainments.
Social comparisons can significantly affect explicit self-evaluations. Participants who were exposed to downward comparisons were significantly more likely to report positive self-evaluations, while those who were exposed to lateral comparisons were more likely to report negative self-evaluations. As shown in Table 3, participants rated themselves as being more attractive when comparing themselves with others in a downward comparison condition than in the lateral comparison condition.
In some cases, people are tempted to ignore social comparisons because they are afraid of being outdone or threatened. Other times, people may avoid social comparisons with people of the same race or hair color. Similarly, people who want to be perceived as smart may compare themselves with someone who is a superior student.