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Social Comparison Theory

A good many things that people need to know about themselves, they learn by observing the actions of other people and reasoning from what they observe to implications for themselves. They interpret the meanings of those observed actions and decode the implications of those actions for their own opinions and abilities. Sometimes this is a simple process. At a facultystudent picnic, I foolishly join in the 100-yard dash and learn that all the students finish considerably ahead of me. I thus infer that my previous belief that I am a really fast runner needs to be corrected. Or I hold the opinion that a new television show is clever and cool and make the mistake of saying so, only to discover that my ingroup of ...

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