If you can do it, I can do it

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When I was recently reading the Psychology textbook, I came across a very interesting topic in chapter 13, which was on Social Psychology. On page 496, I came across the "social comparison theory," where we evaluate our abilities and beliefs by comparing them with those of others.

According to the book, doing this allows us to understand ourselves and our social worlds better. For example, they note how if you want to find out how good you are at psychology, it is only natural to compare yourself to other psychology students around you.

There are two different forms of social comparison. In "upward social comparison," we tend to compare ourselves with people who seem superior to us in some way, like a new football player who compares himself to the best player on the team.

Opposite to this is downward social comparison, where we compare ourselves with others who seem inferior to us in some way, like that new football player comparing himself to a younger football player.

Both upward and downward social comparison sometimes boost our self-concepts.

I found this section to be so interesting, because I am guilty of both modes of social comparison. I especially use downward social comparison in sports, where I frequently think to myself "this guy is clumsier than I am, there is no way I will lose." And I know for a fact that I use upward social comparison in Academics, "if that person can get an A, I can too." Using upward social comparison is what kind of drives me academically. When I see a friend that consistently gets good grades, I want to get on their level and throw an A back at them, so I tell myself that I can do just as good as they did.

Anyway, that's my last blog for the year, hope some of you find it interesting, and make sure to tell me what kind of social comparisons you take part in. Good luck on the final everybody!


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I think that there is a lot of social comparison between guys when it comes to strength and "manliness". It is always easy to see this when going to the gym or the rec and watching people interact. Guys are always pushing one another on the whole "if you can lift that I can."

Not only do men partake in the social upward and downward comparisons, but women do EVERYWHERE. Comparing ourselves to the media and what they portray to the "average-janes" walking around campus. We look at other women in the streets, "wow im glad I dont look like that." Or people seen on tv and thinking "I would be so hot if I was that thin/beautiful".

I definitely find myself using these techniques as attempts to boost my self esteem, especially as excuses. After reading about this topic it has made me become more aware to the social comparisons present in my own life. This psychology course has helped me to realize why I do many of the things I do. This self-realization will continue to help me in the future, especially to be a more self-aware individual.

As a society I think we are always comparing ourselves to each other because that is kind of how we were raised in the Western culture. We are brought up to be competitors starting with sports when we are at a young age. It does feel good sometimes, although maybe it should not, to compare ourselves with someone who is worse than us in academics or in sports. It can also help us strive to be our best by getting that higher grade in a class because someone else has it. We want to be the best always.

This can be used for good or ill. If you get a bunch of people together and they all try to push each other to get better, it can help them all reach their potential. However, competition can be a bad thing when the focus is looking better to other people simply to look better, not to increase one's actual abilities. For example, if the only motivation to "be the best" is so that you can get some reward, you might decide to cut corners and sacrifice substance for looks, and possibly get the reward before the honest person who didn't cheat.

The United States is known for having an individualistic culture. We are more worried about ourselves and less about other people than other cultures. I believe this is why we tend to compare ourselves to people especially those who appear to be inferior of us. This allows us to feel good about ourselves.

I think social comparison is essential in todays world to always hold yourself to a higher standard. With social comparison there is always that push to do better and achieve at a higher level with those your surround yourself with. I think this type of competition is beneficial for motivating yourself to have goals and beat them. If no one compared themselves then there would be no progression in todays world and nothing would get accomplished.

I agree with that there is lots of social comparison between guys than between girls when it comes to strength. In addition, it is frequently observed in everywhere such as the gym or the recreation center. I guess that guys don't like to see other guys show their more strength, so it causes much social comparison between guys.

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This page contains a single entry by zinkx023 published on May 3, 2012 8:12 PM.

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