Neuroticism and Social Comparison Orientation as Moderators of Affective Responses to Social Comparison at Work

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Abstract

In a study among 72 nurses, the affective consequences of social comparison were examined and related to neuroticism (N) and to social comparison orientation (SCO). Participants were confronted with a bogus interview with an upward versus a downward comparison target. Positive affect and identification were higher, and negative affect was lower, in the upward than in the downward comparison condition. Independent of their SCO, the higher individuals were in N, the less they identified with the upward comparison target, the more they identified with the downward comparison target, and the less positive affect they showed following confrontation with the upward comparison target. In contrast, independent of their level of N, the higher individuals were in SCO, the more negative affect they showed following confrontation with the downward comparison target. The effects on negative affect stayed the same when controlling for positive affect, and the effects on positive affect stayed the same when controlling for negative affect. These effects were also obtained when perceived direction was used as a predictor instead of the experimentally manipulated direction. It is concluded that, although N and SCO are correlated, these variables seem to have independent and distinct effects upon the responses to social comparison information.

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