The long-term effect of social comparison on academic performance



The present study was part of a large-scale cohort study among several thousand students in the Netherlands. The purpose of the study was to investigate the long-term effects of comparison choice, i.e., comparison with a target performing better or worse than oneself, and academic comparative evaluation, i.e., the extent to which one thinks one's performance is better or worse than that of others, on scores on standardized tests for reading comprehension and mathematics. While controlling for earlier performance, the results showed that both comparison choice and academic comparative evaluation positively predicted test scores over a period of 2 years. Moreover, it was found that the positive effect of comparison choice only applied to students with a favorable comparative evaluation. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.