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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2000 Jul;79(1):23-38.

The "relative self": informational and judgmental consequences of comparative self-evaluation.

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Department of Psychology, Universit├Ąt W├╝rzburg, Germany.


Results of 5 studies demonstrated that self-evaluative comparisons have 2 distinct informational consequences with opposing judgmental effects: They selectively increase the accessibility of standard-consistent self-knowledge and provide an evaluative reference point. The first informational consequence produces assimilation in self-evaluative judgments, whereas the latter yields contrast. Using a lexical decision task, Study 1 demonstrated that a social comparison selectively increases the accessibility of standard-consistent self-knowledge. Study 2 showed that this effect also holds for comparisons with objective standards. Studies 3 and 4 revealed that the same comparison may lead to assimilation on objective and contrast on subjective self-judgments. Finally, Study 5 demonstrated that assimilation results for comparisons with relevant and irrelevant standards, whereas contrast occurs only for relevant standards.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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