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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1993 May;64(5):708-22.

Effects of social comparison direction, threat, and self-esteem on affect, self-evaluation, and expected success.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles.


Two studies explored the conditions under which social comparisons are used to manage negative affect and naturalistic threats. Study 1 examined induced mood and dispositional self-esteem as determinants of affective responses to upward and downward comparisons. Consistent with a mood repair prediction, only low-self-esteem Ss in whom a negative mood had been induced reported improved mood after exposure to downward comparison information. Study 2 examined the impact of naturalistic threats on responses to comparison information. Relative to a no-comparison baseline, low-self-esteem Ss who had experienced a recent academic setback reported more favorable self-evaluations and greater expectations of future success in college after exposure to downward comparison information. These results remained significant after controlling statistically for general distress. Implications for downward comparison theory are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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