Social comparison as a mediator between health problems and subjective health evaluations.

K.I. Van der Zee, Abraham (Bram) Buunk, R. Sanderman

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Abstract

The role of social comparison in mediating the relation between 'objective' health status and subjective health evaluations was examined. In a random population sample (N = 361) it was shown that health problems were related to psychological distress, which in turn induced a downward comparison process. This downward comparison resulted in a perception of being better off than others in a similar situation (relative evaluation). While both health problems and psychological distress had strong direct effects on general health evaluations, relative evaluations explained further significant variance. In addition, it was found that although women reported more psychological and physical problems than men, they engaged more often in downward comparison and consistently felt more than men did that their health was better than that of most others. No gender differences in general health evaluations were found. Interestingly, social comparison had a stronger impact on the general subjective well-being of women than of men.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-65
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Volume34
Publication statusPublished - Mar-1995

Keywords

  • MENTAL-HEALTH
  • BREAST-CANCER
  • STRESS
  • COMPLAINTS
  • ADJUSTMENT
  • MORTALITY

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