Social Comparison, Social Justice, and Relative Deprivation: Theoretical, Empirical, and Policy Perspectives

By John C. Masters; William P. Smith | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 2
Social Comparison and Achievement Evaluation in Children

William P. Smith · Vanderbilt University Emily S. Davidson · Texas A & M University Anne-Claire France · Vanderbilt University


Introductory Comments

Like the Ruble and Frey chapter, this chapter focuses on children's social comparison of task performances. Questioning the typical assumption underlying research in this area -- that social comparison of performance is sought and used for purposes of ability judgment -- the authors examine children's use of comparative performance information in judging the goodness of their achievements and the implications such use has for the development with age of interest in such information. The authors argue that such use of comparison information does not require ability inferences by children and may be less demanding of cognitive skills than comparison in the service of ability judgment. Through description of a program of research, they demonstrate that young children who typically fail to use social comparison information for ability inferences do use such information for the evaluation of their task performances as reflected in self-reward. They go on to show that when cued by the availability of a concrete self-reward response young children are at least as interested in social comparison, especially comparison with similar others, as are older children. They also show that such interest in social comparison is sufficiently motivating to children to play a role in the maintenance of task performance itself.

Social comparison processes are generally assumed to play a significant role in individuals' acquisition of knowledge about themselves and their

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