Social Comparisons Among Women With Breast Cancer: A Longitudinal Investigation1


  • 1

    This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (R01CA61303). Preparation of this manuscript was partially supported by postdoctoral training grant T32-MH 19985 and by center grant P30-MH52776 from the National Institute of Mental Health. We are grateful to Michael Bridges for his comments on a previous draft ofthis manuscript and to Polly Delahanty for her assistance with coding the data.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to either Laura M. Bogart, who is now at the Department of Psychology, 118 Kent Hall, Kent State University. Kent, OH 44242; or Vicki S. Helgeson, Carnegie Mellon University. Psychology Department, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.


We examined social comparisons made by women with breast cancer who participated in peer-support interventions. This setting. in which participants were exposed to similar others, allowed for a longitudinal investigation of the frequency, antecedents. and consequences of social comparison. Consistent with the literature, the majority of comparisons were made to worse-off others (downward), and the majority of comparisons were associated with positive affect (positive comparisons). Low self-esteem. low internal locus of control, and high illness uncertainty were associated with making more negative comparisons. In addition, negative comparisons were associated with a decrease in perceived control and an increase in uncertainty over time. whereas positive doanbard comparisons were associated with an increase in self-esteem. Implications for support groups are discussed.