When comparing ourselves and others to models and "beautiful" people in the media, we

Kendra Cherry, MS, is an writer, educational consultant, and speaker concentrated on helping students learn about psychology.

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We all compare ourselves to others in our social human beings, whether it is comparing our looks to those of celebrities we check out in the media or our talents to those of our coemployees. In psychology, social compariboy concept is one explanation for this tendency we have to make comparisons in between ourselves and also others.

Let"s take a closer look at just how social compariboy theory works and exactly how the comparisons we make influence the views we may host of ourselves.


Social comparichild concept was initially proposed in 1954 by psychologist Leon Festinger and also said that human being have an inherent drive to evaluate themselves, frequently in comparison to others. People make all kinds of judgments about themselves, and one of the key means that we do this is through social compariboy, or analyzing the self in relation to others.

For instance, imagine that a high school student has actually just signed up for band course to learn how to play the clarinet. As she evaluates her abilities and development, she will compare her performance to other students in the class.

She could initially compare her abilities to the other members of the clarinet area, particularly noting those who are much better than her and those that are worse. She may additionally compare her abilities to those of students who play other instruments too.

Psychologist Leon Festinger thought that we engage in this compariboy process as a means of establishing a benchnote whereby we have the right to make specific evaluations of ourselves.

For example, a music student might compare herself to the star student of the class. If she finds that her abilities do not meacertain as much as her peer"s talents, she can be pushed to accomplish more and also improve her abilities.

How Social Compariboy Process Works

The social comparikid procedure entails human being coming to recognize themselves by evaluating their very own attitudes, abilities, and also traits in comparichild with others. In many cases, we attempt to compare ourselves to those in our peer team or with whom we are equivalent. There are two kinds of social comparison—upward social comparichild and downward social compariboy.

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Upward Social Comparikid

This takes location when we compare ourselves with those who we believe are much better than us. These upward comparisons regularly focus on the desire to improve our present condition or level of capability. We might compare ourselves to someone much better off and also look for means that we deserve to achieve similar results.

Downward Social Comparison

This takes placeas soon as we compare ourselves to others that are worse off than us. Such downward comparisons are frequently centered on making ourselves feel better around our abilities or traits. We could not be excellent at something, however at least we are much better off than someone else.

People compare themselves to those who are better as soon as they desire motivation to improve, and also they compare themselves to those that are worse as soon as they desire to feel better around themselves.


According to Festinger, civilization count on these comparisons via various other world to accurately assess their very own abilities, traits, and also attitudes. In cases wright here your comparisons are not effective, you can uncover yourself obtaining right into situations that are too tough or facility for your existing ability levels.

For example, as soon as you compare yourself to your friends you could feel that you are pretty physically fit. So, you might authorize up for a marathon believing that you have the capacity to finish through no problem.

When race day arrives, you might find yourself surrounded by people who are a lot even more athletic than you and realize that your initial assessment of your abilities was overly optimistic. When we deserve to, we may put these comparisons to the test in real-human being settings.

Upward Comparikid

For example, if you want to assess your ability as a basketsphere player, you can start by playing a game with your friends or practice shooting cost-free throws. Once you have a good understanding of what you are capable of, you might then start comparing your performance to various other civilization that you know.

You can instantly think of a friend who plays on his school"s basketround team. This is an instance of upward social comparikid.

In compariboy to him, your performance is not nearly as skilled. At first you might feel discouraged by the gap in between your capacity levels. But you might additionally realize that you can ultimately accomplish a similar skill level through a little exercise. In this case, the upward social comparichild may make you even more motivated to improve upon your abilities.

Downward Comparikid

You could then compare your abilities to a frifinish that couldn"t make a basket to conserve his life. In compariboy, your performance is a lot much better.

This is an example of downward social compariboy. In this situation, observing your friend’s negative skills actually makes you feel even much better about your very own abilities.

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Some comparisons could make you feel insufficient and also much less most likely to go after a goal, while others giveyou confidence and also help rise your self-esteem.

A Word From Verywell

Social compariboy not only plays a role in the judgments that world make about themselves yet also in the means that human being behave. As you compare yourself to others, think about how both upward and also downward social comparison can influence your self-belief, confidence, motivation, and also attitude, and also watch out for negative feelings that might emerge as an outcome of this process.