C.K.W. de Dreu
- Enhancing satisfaction through downward comparison: the role of relational discontent and individual differences in social comparison orientation
- Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
- Volume | Issue number
- 37 | 6
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Three experiments examined whether downward social comparison may enhance satisfaction in close relationships. In a thoughtgenerating task participants were asked to generate features of their relationship in which they considered their relationship as better than that of most others (downward comparison condition) versus features that they considered merely as good (no-comparison condition) Experiment 1 and Experiment 3 found evidence that downward comparison resulted in more relationship satisfaction than merely generating good qualities of the relationship in both dating and marital relationships. Experiment 2 and Experiment 3 showed that engaging in downward comparison moderated the effect of relational discontent upon satisfaction, but only for those high in social comparison orientation. Moreover, after downward comparison, individuals had relatively shorter response latencies when answering questions about their relationship, suggesting that the comparison task made attitudes toward ones relationship cognitively more accessible. The differential effect of both conditions was not due to the fact that relatively more features were generated in the comparison condition or that these features were relatively more positive.
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