UCL School of Management is delighted to welcome Thomas Mussweiler, LBS, to host a research seminar discussing: ‘The Culture of Social Comparison’
Social comparison is one of the most ubiquitous features of social and organizational life. This fundamental human tendency to look to others for information about how to think, feel, and behave has provided us with the ability to thrive in a highly complex and interconnected social world. In fact, research to date has demonstrated just how ubiquitous social comparison is. At the same time, little is known about the variability of social comparison activities. I will examine both of these aspects, the ubiquity as well as the variability of social comparison. First, I will present research demonstrating that social comparison is so ubiquitous, because it allows people to process information efficiently. I will further highlight how comparative thinking influences social behavior and decision-making across a variety of phenomena. Second, I will present research examining variability in social comparison by highlighting cultural differences. Specifically, combining experimental data from the lab with big data from the field (i.e., Google search data), this research shows that two prominent cultural dimensions, tightness–looseness and individualism–collectivism, uniquely explain variation in social-comparison proclivity across individuals, situations, and cultures. Together, both research streams demonstrate that social comparison is a ubiquitous psychological mechanisms that has adapted to its specific cultural and organizational context.