Different Selves Have Different Effects: Self-Activation and Defensive Social Comparison Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Three studies show that different forms of self-activation have differential influences on the processing of social comparison information. Activating neutral self-conceptions results in defensive processing of threatening social comparison information (Study 1). Participants maintain favorable self-evaluations in the face of upward comparison and rate the upward target of comparison negatively. Activating positive self-conceptions results in non-defensive processing of threatening social comparison information (Study 2). Participants endorse negative self-evaluations following upward comparison and rate the upward target of comparison positively. Activating negative self-conceptions maximizes defensive processing of threatening social comparison information (Study 3). Participants maintain favorable self-evaluations in the face of upward comparison and rate both upward and downward targets of comparison negatively. These results are discussed in terms of their implications for strategies to maintain self-esteem in the face of threatening comparisons.

author list (cited authors)

  • Schwinghammer, S. A., Stapel, D. A., & Blanton, H.

citation count

  • 41

publication date

  • January 2006