British Journal of Social Psychology

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Volume 34 Issue 3 (September 1995), Pages 223-350

Affective responses to social comparison: A study among disabled individuals (pages 279-292)

The present study examined the effects of social comparison among 112 individuals receiving payments under the Disablement Insurance Act. A part of a fictitious interview with another disabled person was presented to the subjects. This interview contained upward or downward social comparison information about either the problem severity or coping success of a target. In line with the predictions, the results indicated that upward comparison generated more positive affect than downward comparison only for subjects high in perceived control. Downward comparison generated more negative affect than upward comparison, regardless of perceived control. The nature of the comparison dimension (problem severity versus coping success) did not result in differences in positive or negative affect. Furthermore, subjects high in control identified more strongly with the upward target than with the downward target, especially when the comparison dimension was coping success. Some evidence was found that the effect of perceived control on the positive affective consequences of upward comparison was mediated by identification with the upward target.

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