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 4
Social Comparison and Outcome Evaluation in Group Contexts

John M. Levine · University of Pittsburgh

Richard L. Moreland · University of Pittsburgh


Introductory Comments

In this carefully reasoned chapter, John Levine and Richard Moreland consider the social comparison processes that contribute to evaluations of outcomes in the group context. With a concern similar to that behind the Masters and Keil chapter, Levine and Moreland develop a taxonomy of types of comparisons involving outcomes. They also give special attention to the conditions likely to promote different types of comparisons. Although this is a heavily theoretical chapter, it nevertheless consistently relates hypotheses, theoretical constructions, and the proposed taxonomy of outcome comparisons in group context to existing literature that illustrates the points or proposals being made.

The chapter ends with a focus on unresolved issues concerning the relationship between social comparison and evaluations of outcomes. It is acknowledged that the present analysis, even though it identifies 12 types of outcome comparisons in group contexts, may not capture the full complexity of social comparisons in this domain. Attention is called to the need for research to systematize any relationships between specific types of comparisons and the reactions (behavioral, cognitive, affective) that are evoked. Although three motives are identified as contributing to social comparisons (equity, self-enhancement, self-depreciation), Levine and Moreland note that others may be involved in outcome comparisons, and these merit further consideration. Finally, it is important to note that little is known about the relationship between the type of outcome in a given comparison (e.g., monetary outcome) and the selection of a particular target for comparison.

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