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Better Than Better-Than-Average (or Not): Elevated and Depressed Self-evaluations Following Unfavorable Social Comparisons

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Todd McElroy Ph.D. (Creator)
Institution
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: http://www.library.appstate.edu/

Abstract: Two experiments were designed to investigate perceivers’ self-evaluations when they received objectively positive above-average performance feedback but were told about another coactor who performed either moderately or much better than the participant. Results indicated that participants responded negatively to this comparison information even though they received better-than-average performance feedback. Participants were given the opportunity to evaluate themselves relative to another coactor who was described as performing at an average level. When the negative implications of the unfavorable social comparisons were relatively mild, both low and high self-esteem participants raised their self-evaluations vis-a-vis the inferior coactor who performed at an average level on the task. However, when the upward comparisons were especially unfavorable (i.e., when there was a large discrepancy between the performance level of the participant and the coactor—the comparison target), only high self-esteem participants raised their self-evaluations. Results provided evidence for active compensation and relatively passive spreading activation, supporting a schema-maintenance through compensation model (e.g., Seta & Seta, 1982, 1993; Seta, Seta, & McElroy, 2003).

Additional Information

Publication
Seta, J. J., Seta, C. E. & McElroy, T. (2006). Better Than Better-Than-Average (or Not): Elevated and Depressed Self-evaluations Following Unfavorable Social Comparisons. Self and Identity, 5: 51-72. Published by Taylor & Francis (ISSN: 1529-8868). DOI: 10.1080/15298860500380551
Language: English
Date: 2006