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Abstract

When people compare their own performance across domains, the comparison may be based on differences in their absolute (objective) performance and/or on diffrences in their performance relative to others Differential sensitivity to the interpersonal (relative) and intrapersonal (absolute) comparison information was examined as a function of the closeness of the social comparison target and individual differences in self-esteem Subjects (162) worked on two tasks with a partner, receiving item-by-item feedback, the partner was either a friend or a stranger The feedback was designed such that subjects' objective performance was better on one task (Task A) than on the other task (Task B), but their performance relative to that of the partner was better on Task B than on Task A High self-esteem subjects and subjects in the friend condition were more satisfied and evaluated the test more positively on the task associated with better relative performance (despite the fact that their objective performance was worse on that task) Low self-esteem subjects and subjects in the stranger condition expressed more positive reactions on the task associated with better objective performance (despite the fact that their relative performance was worse on that task) Results are discussed in terms of the informational and affective consequences of engaging in social comparison