WHEN DOWNWARD COMPARISON PRODUCES NEGATIVE AFFECT: THE SENSE OF CONTROL AS A MODERATOR

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Abstract:

It has been assumed that engaging in upward or downward comparison can either improve or deteriorate affect, depending on the amount of control individuals feel they have over the comparison dimension. The main goal of the present study was to determine whether an individual difference factor such as the sense of control can moderate the relationship between social comparison and affect. The results showed that for downward comparison, the lower the participants scored on the sense of control, the higher the negative affect they experienced. Unexpectedly, the sense of control was unrelated to affect in upward comparison. Additional results indicated that identification with the comparison targets had an impact on negative affect. This study provides evidence that the sense of control may be useful in understanding affective reactions to social comparisons. The theoretical implications in downward comparison theory are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2001.29.5.427

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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