Social Comparisons and Absenteeism: A Structural Modeling Approach1


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    The authors would like to thank Dr. N. W. VanYperen for his helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Sabine A. Geurts, Department of Psychology, University of Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9104, NL-6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


In this study a social comparison model is constructed that predicts objectively recorded absence frequency among male Dutch blue-collar workers from a metal factory in the Netherlands. By employing LISREL, the model is developed (tested and revised) in Plant North (N = 254), and successfully cross-validated in Plant South (N= 199). The study demonstrates the impact of two social comparison processes upon absenteeism. Absenteeism is the result of: (a) the perception that one is less well-off than one's colleagues on several job aspects, and (b) the adjustment of one's personal absence norm to that of the work group. In addition, our study reveals that, rather than being absent or having tolerant absence norms, employees may develop feelings of resentment in response to perceived inequity and a tolerant group absence norm. It is concluded that social comparison theory enhances our understanding of absenteeism.