Meeting Goals and Confronting Conflict: Children's Changing Perceptions of Social Comparison

Eva M. Pomerantz, Diane N. Ruble, Karin S. Frey, Faith Greulich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

It was proposed that previously observed grade‐related changes in children's social comparison behavior could be explained by the changing goals and meanings children assign to this behavior. Specifically, it was suggested that, as children progress through the school system, they become increasingly aware of the negative and positive aspects of social comparison and adjust their behavior in response to this awareness, as well as to increasingly salient self‐evaluation goals. To examine these propositions, 106 elementary school children were observed in their classrooms and interviewed once a year for 3 years. Consistent with previous research, overt forms of social comparison were most frequent among younger children, whereas subtle forms of social comparison were most frequent among older children. Furthermore, with increasing grade children were likely to view overt forms of social comparison negatively and subtle forms as useful in meeting self‐evaluation goals. Additional analyses revealed little association between perceptions of social comparison and actual social comparison behavior, except that perceiving subtle social comparison as useful for self‐evaluative goals predicted engagement in such behavior 2 years later.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-738
Number of pages16
JournalChild development
Volume66
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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