Self-Evaluative Effects of Temporal and Social Comparison

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ethan Zell, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: Social and temporal comparisons are two fundamental information sources for evaluating one’s characteristics and abilities. The current study demonstrates that when social comparison (where people’s performance stood in the overall distribution) and temporal comparison (whether performance improved or deteriorated over time) information are both provided, each independently influences actors’ self-evaluations of task performance and ability. In contrast, yoked observer participants paid virtually no attention to temporal comparison information, preferring to evaluate actors based solely on their status relative to others. Furthermore, when the feedback actors received suggested that they were getting worse, their self-evaluation ratings were approximately equal to that of the observers who had access to the same information. However, when their fortunes improved over time, actors used this temporal information as a basis for evaluating themselves more favorably than observers. We argue that both egocentrism and self-enhancement account for the differences between actors’ and observers’ performance evaluations.

Additional Information

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 223-227
Language: English
Date: 2009
self-evaluation, social perception, social comparison

Email this document to