Can Social Comparison Lead to a Decrease in Prosocial Behavior?

Doctoral Dissertation


This research addressed whether upward or downward social comparisons can affect people’s prosocial behavior toward the comparison targets. In this experiment, 123 undergraduates responded to cards from a standard inkblot test. Then they were randomly assigned to conditions in which they were told that their performance indicated that they were either inferior or superior to their peers on personal characteristics. A control group was given no feedback about their performance. Participants’ prosocial behaviors were measured 2-days post-manipulation. Results indicated that participants in both the upward and downward comparison groups, compared with the control group, showed significantly reduced prosocial behavior. I suggest that drawing either upward or downward comparisons can make people feel competitive with the targets and thus less inclined to help them.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-07212010-135026

Author Jonathan J Yip
Advisor Anita Kelly
Contributor George Howard, Committee Member
Contributor Anita Kelly, Committee Chair
Contributor Irene Park, Committee Member
Contributor Dan Lapsley, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Psychology
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2010-07-14

Submission Date 2010-07-21
  • United States of America

  • Competition

  • Social Comparison

  • Self-views

  • Prosocial Behavior

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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