Definition of Social Comparison

Social Comparison refers to the process through which individuals evaluate themselves by comparing their abilities, attributes, or attitudes to those of others in similar situations.

Key Points

  • Social Comparison involves the comparison of oneself to others.
  • It is a cognitive process that helps individuals develop self-perception and shape their identity.
  • People engage in social comparison to assess their own abilities, skills, and worth.
  • Social media platforms have amplified the frequency and impact of social comparison.


Social Comparison Theory, proposed by psychologist Leon Festinger, suggests that individuals have an innate drive to evaluate themselves in relation to others. It serves as a means of self-assessment and is influenced by various factors such as social norms, personal goals, and cultural influences.

There are two main types of social comparison:

  1. Upward Social Comparison: This occurs when individuals compare themselves to others who are perceived as superior or more successful. It may lead to feelings of inferiority or motivation to improve.
  2. Downward Social Comparison: This happens when individuals compare themselves to others who are perceived as inferior or less successful. It may boost self-esteem or create a sense of satisfaction.

Social comparison can have both positive and negative effects on individuals. It can motivate self-improvement, provide a benchmark for goals, and help individuals learn new skills. On the flip side, excessive social comparison can lead to feelings of inadequacy, envy, and low self-esteem.

In today’s digital age, social media platforms provide ample opportunities for social comparison. People often compare their achievements, appearance, and lifestyles with others, which can have significant psychological impacts. It is important for individuals to be mindful of the potential distortions and biases in the comparisons made through social media, and to prioritize self-acceptance and authentic self-evaluation.