While similarity typically breeds social comparison, all information gained from social comparisons is not equally influential. Three studies illustrate the situations in which individuals defensively interpret social comparison information such that they incorporate information that reflects positively on the self and disregard negative information. Study 1 extends previous research to show that self-threat broadens the conditions under which defensive interpretations occur to include those in which similarity is ambiguous. Studies 2 and 3 demonstrate that defensive interpretations are less likely to occur when individuals are affirmed or when the comparison information is unimportant. These findings suggest that the impact of social comparisons on self-views is determined by both similarity of comparison targets and the motives of the perceiver. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.