By whose standard? The affective implications of ethnic minorities' comparisons to ethnic minority and majority referents



In a ‘diary’ study, we examined the frequency and affective implications of 34 ethnic minority students' comparisons to other ethnic minorities or to members of a high-status ethnic majority (i.e., European-Americans). Participants made more frequent comparisons to ethnic majority than ethnic minority referents, although neither type of comparison tended to be perceived in terms of group membership (see also Smith & Leach, 2004). Comparisons to ethnic majority referents did not alter participants' positive affect even where they suggested poor future prospects in status-relevant domains. In contrast, comparisons to fellow ethnic minorities led to increased positive affect when they suggested a future prospect of improvement. We discuss the conceptual and practical implications of social comparison in the context of group status. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.