Health, Coping, and Well-Being: Perspectives from Social Comparison Theory

Health, Coping, and Well-Being: Perspectives from Social Comparison Theory

Health, Coping, and Well-Being: Perspectives from Social Comparison Theory

Health, Coping, and Well-Being: Perspectives from Social Comparison Theory

Synopsis

This volume is intended to provide health psychologists with perspectives from the domain of social psychology (social comparison theory), but will also appeal to social psychologists interested in applications of the theory.

Excerpt

The idea for this book arose in 1993, during the meetings of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology, when we were having lunch on a pier in Santa Barbara. Both of us were involved in research in the boundary area of health and social psychology. Both of us were using social comparison theory as a theoretical framework in this research, and both of us had the clear impression that we were not alone. As many other researchers seemed to be heading in the same direction, we began to consider the idea of bringing together in a single volume the various perspectives and approaches that shared a common theme: applying social comparison theory to health-related issues.

Such a volume seemed timely for a variety of reasons. Social comparison theory has a long history in social psychology, and remains one of its most treasured theoretical constructions ("everybody's second favorite . . ."). It has considerable heuristic value. As much as any theory, it illustrates what is the central mission of our discipline -- examining the influence of social factors on thinking, feeling, and behaving. Despite the central role that the theory plays in social psychology, however, its impact was not fully realized and appreciated until fairly recently. in the more than 40 years since Leon Festinger proposed the theory in an original paper, there have been only two volumes on social comparison theory, one edited by Jerry Suls and Rowland Miller in 1977, the other edited by Jerry Suls and Thomas Wills in 1991. Both books were very successful, sparking new interest in the theory, and were critical in its development. in many ways, the current volume is a direct result of the work prompted by each of these earlier volumes. the Suls and Wills . . .

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