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Lecture 5

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Erika Carlson

Lecture 5: Social Comparison and Self-Protection - Self-enhancement is usually driving the way we see ourselves Compare “self” to a standard: Self-discrepancy Social Comparison - comparing ourselves to others - process where we’re learning about our own abilities/skills by comparing ourselves to other people - self-assessment motive - upward vs. downward comparisons - Who do we compare ourselves to? - Is it helpful? - Self-enhancement o Usually want to see ourselves in a positive light o Want to find that we are better than other people (better than average effect) - Lake Wobegon o We all tend to see ourselves above average e o When the task is easy, people think they are better than average o When the task is difficult, people think that they are below average  Bias in the sense that we think we are unskilled, and must anchor our judgment in how we think we do - How do we compare? o Upward and Downward Social Comparison - Motives o Boost self-esteem, coping o Self-improvement - Students given negative feedback about their IQ o Took opportunity to see gay individuals in stereotypically negative ways  Compared to people who didn’t get that false feedback • Found a group where they could use a downward comparison to make themselves feel better o Coping  Some individuals experiencing health problems (elderly) will compare themselves to a worse-off individual • Makes them feel better about their situation o Downward social comparison - Upward social comparison (looking for someone who’s doing better than we are for self- improvement motives) o Use them as a source of inspiration  When motive is self-improvement, upward social comparison isn’t threatening - College Students o Transitioning into new environment, don’t know your skill set  Given options to read about different types of students that were seniors • One was doing well (coping well) • One that wasn’t doing well (not coping well) o Upward social comparison provided long-term room for self- improvement - Assimilation o See yourself as more similar  To our upward social comparison – person attaining something that we think we can attain o If person is attaining something that you don’t think you can attain yourself, see yourself as dissimilar from that individual - If trait is malleable, see yourselves more like them - If trait is fixed, see yourselves as less like them - If shown someone who is physically attracted and told you have the same birthday, more likely to see them as physically attractive (having something in common with someone leading you to be more attracted to them) Costs to Social Comparison - someone’s always going to be better than you - Facebook use predicted feeling less happy later on in that day - How much time you spent on Facebook negatively affected how you felt about life satisfaction o Feeling of envy (engaging in upward comparison) Protecting the Self - Temporal Self-Discrepancy o Tend to see ourselves further in time less positively than our more present self  Self-enhancing
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