The ups and downs of thinking about a successful other: self-construals and the consequences of social comparisons

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Abstract

We hypothesized that the consequences of upward social comparisons are mediated by independent versus interdependent content of self-construals. Independent self-construals emphasize personal uniqueness; thus comparison to an outstanding other should undermine one's sense of uniqueness and lower current self-evaluations. Conversely, interdependent self-construals focus on interpersonal connectedness. Hence, interdependent individuals should be able to bask in the reflected success of a personally relevant other in an upward comparison task, thus increasing self-evaluations. In a study involving 66 US undergraduates the latter predictions were supported. The psychological dimension of interdependence predicted differential outcomes of upward social comparisons, but this was not the case for the dimension of independence. Also, differential consequences of social comparison were more pronounced for current self-evaluations than for participants' possible selves. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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