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Most Underappreciated50 Prominent Social Psychologists Describe Their Most Unloved Work$
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Robert Arkin

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199778188

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199778188.001.0001

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Thirty Years of Contrast in Social Comparison

Thirty Years of Contrast in Social Comparison

Chapter:
(p.225) Thirty Years of Contrast in Social Comparison
Source:
Most Underappreciated
Author(s):

Ladd Wheeler

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199778188.003.0045

Ladd Wheeler reflects on his most underappreciated work: a study on social comparison theory. According to social comparison theory, people compare with those who are similar to them in order to evaluate themselves. In the case of abilities, there is a unidirectional drive upward; people want to be better than others, but not a lot better. Wheeler performed an experiment using the “rank-order paradigm” to test whether the unidirectional drive should always lead to upward comparison as opposed to downward comparison. He found that people use upward comparison to confirm that they are “almost as good as the very good ones”.

Keywords:   Ladd Wheeler, social comparison theory, rank-order paradigm, unidirectional drive, upward comparison, downward comparison

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