Have you ever compared yourself to others? If so, you’re not alone. Social comparison theory is the scientific term for the phenomenon of humans comparing themselves to others. We do this in order to evaluate our own opinions and abilities. While social comparison can have some benefits, it can also have some dangers. In this blog post, we will discuss the pros and cons of social comparison theory and what is it actually.
- 1 Social Comparison Theory
- 2 What Causes People To Do Social Comparison?
- 3 Benefits Of Social Comparison
- 4 Dangers Of Social Comparison
- 5 Is Social Comparison Related To Mental Health?
- 6 Tips To Avoid Social Comparison
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 A Word From Therapy Mantra
Social Comparison Theory
The theory of social comparison suggests that we determine our own self-worth by comparing ourselves to others. This can be done in two ways:
- Upward comparisons, where we compare ourselves to people who are doing better than us.
- Downward comparisons, where we compare ourselves to people who are doing worse than us.
These ways of social comparison can affect our mood, emotions, and self-esteem. More often, doing so can lead to negative consequences such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others. We do it all the time, whether we realize it or not. Whenever we see someone who is wealthier, more attractive, or more successful than us, we can’t help but compare ourselves to them. And usually, these comparisons make us feel bad about ourselves.
The social comparison theory was first proposed by Social psychologist Leon Festinger in 1954. He suggested that people have the drive to evaluate their opinions and abilities against other people around them. This need for social comparison can be motivated by feelings of insecurity or uncertainty about our own opinions and abilities.
What Causes People To Do Social Comparison?
One reason people do a social comparison is to assess their own abilities and worth. For example, if you want to know how good you are at writing, you might compare your work to that of a published author. If you want to know whether you’re attractive, you might compare yourself to people you see in magazines or on television.
People also use social comparison theory as a way of finding out normal or acceptable behavior in a particular situation. For instance, if you’re not sure how much tip to leave at a restaurant, you might ask a friend what he or she usually leaves. Or if you’re wondering whether it’s appropriate to wear jeans to a job interview, you might ask someone who has been through the process recently.
Sometimes people engage in social comparisons because they’re feeling insecure or unhappy. For example, if you feel bad about your weight, you might compare yourself to thinner people. If you’re worried that you’re not as successful as people your age, you might compare your achievements to theirs.
Comparing yourself to others can be a way of making yourself feel better or worse. It all depends on how the comparison turns out. If you find that you’re constantly comparing yourself to others, it might be a sign that you need to work on increasing your self-esteem and confidence.
Social comparison theory can be helpful in some situations, but it’s important to remember that everyone is unique and special in his or her own way.
Benefits Of Social Comparison
However, there are still some benefits concerned with social comparison. Some of the benefits of social comparison are;
- People can use social comparison to assess their abilities and progress.
- People work harder in order to improve their abilities or reach a goal.
- Social comparison can also help people feel better about themselves.
For example, if someone is feeling down about their appearance, they may compare themselves to someone who is worse off. Then it eventually gives them feel grateful for what they have.
According to Festinger, social comparison is a way to reduce uncertainty. When people are uncertain about something, they tend to look to others for guidance. For example, when you don’t know how well you’re doing in a class, you might compare yourself to other students to get an idea of where you stand.
In addition, social comparison can be used as a motivation tool. When people see others succeeding at something they want to achieve, it can inspire them to work harder to reach their own goals.
Additionally, comparing ourselves to others can help us set realistic standards for ourselves. We often have unrealistic expectations for ourselves and then get disappointed when we don’t meet them. However, if we compare ourselves to others who are realistically achieving the same things we want to achieve, it can help us set more achievable goals for ourselves.
Dangers Of Social Comparison
More often, social comparison can also have some dangerous consequences. Some of these dangers are;
- Social comparison can lead to envy. When we compare ourselves to others and find them lacking, it can lead to feelings of jealousy and resentment.
- It can also lead to self-doubt and low self-esteem. If we frequently compare ourselves to others and find that we don’t measure up, it can erode our confidence and make us feel bad about ourselves.
- And, social comparison can create a false sense of reality. When we’re only exposed to the highlight reel of other people’s lives (via social media, for example), it’s easy to forget that everyone has their own struggles and challenges.
- Also, social comparison theory suggests the danger of downward social comparisons. This happens when we compare ourselves to people who are worse off than us, and it can lead to feelings of guilt or inadequacy.
- It can lead to a sense of competition instead of cooperation. When we’re always comparing ourselves to others, it can foster a competitive mindset.
- The feeling of competition can mostly lead you to unnecessary stress and conflict.
So, while social comparison can sometimes be helpful, it’s important to be aware of the dangers as well. Therefore, next time you find yourself comparing yourself to others, try to remember that everyone has their own unique journey in life. And, most importantly, focus on your own happiness and growth.
It is important to identify the dangers of social comparison in order to avoid them. Otherwise, they could impact you in a negative way.
Is Social Comparison Related To Mental Health?
Mental health is a growing concern in today’s society. With the rise of social media, it’s easier than ever to compare ourselves to others. But what does this comparison do to our mental health?
A study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking found that social media use was related to increased levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. The study found that the more time people spent on social media, the greater these negative feelings were.
In many ways, social comparison theory defines that comparison is often related to mental health. It has been found that comparing ourselves to others can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. And these feelings are directly linked to mental illness.
It’s important to remember that social media is not an accurate portrayal of reality. People tend to only share the best parts of their lives on social media. This can lead us to believe that everyone else’s life is perfect and our own lives are not good enough.
We should be careful about who we compare ourselves to and why we are doing it. If we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, it can lead to negative mental health consequences.
Tips To Avoid Social Comparison
Most of us are guilty of social comparison from time to time. You see someone with a new car or vacation home and can’t help but think, “Why don’t I have that?” Or, you compare your parenting skills to another mom at the park and feel like you’re falling short.
Comparing ourselves to others is human nature, but it can be dangerous if we’re not careful. Social comparison can lead to feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, and depression. It can also fuel a never-ending cycle of materialism and consume our time and energy.
Therefore to avoid such social comparison, here are a few tips;
Be Mindful Of The Reasons For Your Comparison
First, it’s important to be aware of the reasons behind your comparison. If you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others, ask yourself why. Are you comparing yourself because you’re feeling insecure? Are you looking for validation? Or are you simply curious about someone else’s life?
Be honest with yourself and try to understand the root cause of your comparison. Once you know why you’re doing it, you can take steps to stop.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others On Social Media
Social media is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to social comparison. It’s easy to scroll through your feed and see everyone’s highlight reel without getting the full story. People only share the good stuff on social media, so it’s not an accurate portrayal of reality.
If you find yourself comparing your life to others on social media, try taking a break from it. Log out of your accounts for a week and see how you feel. You might be surprised at how much better you feel when you’re not constantly exposed to other people’s highlight reels.
Focus On Your Own Journey
Comparison only leads to feelings of jealousy and inadequacy if you’re not happy with your own life. If you’re content with where you are in life, then there’s no reason to compare yourself to others.
Focus on your own journey and be proud of the progress you’ve made. Remember that everyone’s path is different, so don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.
Even, when you focus on your own journey it is important to not compare your current self with your past self. Yes, it is good to reflect on how far you have come but don’t dwell on it. Accept where you are today and use it as a stepping stone to where you want to be tomorrow.
Be Grateful For What You Have
It is one of the best ways to stop comparing yourself to others is to be grateful for what you have. When you’re feeling jealous or envious of someone else, take a step back and think about all the things you’re thankful for.
You might not have a new car or fancy vacation home, but maybe you have a great group of friends or a loving family. Whatever it is, focus on the positive and be grateful for what you do have. Because having things of your own is more important and beautiful than having things that someone else has.
Comparison is only harmful if we allow it to be. By being mindful of our motives and focusing on our own journey, we can avoid the dangers of social comparison. So, the next time you find yourself comparing your life to others, remember these tips and take a step back. Because at the end of the day, what matters most is what you have for yourself.
Challenge Your Assumptions
When you find yourself comparing yourself to others, challenge your assumptions. Why do you think the other person is better off than you? Are they really?
For example, maybe you see a co-worker with a new car and assume they make more money than you. But that may not be the case. They could have a lot of debt or be struggling to pay their bills. You don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s life, so don’t assume you do.
However, assumptions are not only limited to what we think about other people. We also make assumptions about ourselves. For example, you might assume you’re not good enough to achieve a certain goal. But why assume that? It’s wrong to put limitations on yourself. In fact, a person must explore the world and work hard to achieve their goal. Nothing is difficult if you do it with your full heart!
Accept The Fact That Everyone Is Unique
One of the most important things to remember is that everyone is unique. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, so it’s impossible to compare ourselves to others and come out ahead.
Embrace your uniqueness and accept the fact that there will always be someone better than you at something. That’s not a bad thing, it just means that we’re all human.
No one is perfect, so stop comparing yourself to people who seem like they are. Everyone has flaws and makes mistakes. The key is to learn from your mistakes and not dwell on them.
Hence, there are various tips and techniques to avoid such social comparisons which might be harmful to an individual. Be cautious of the reasons behind your comparison and take the necessary steps to stop it.
Conclusively, social comparison theory is a double-edged sword. On one hand, making comparisons can be motivating and help us improve our lives. On the other hand, comparing ourselves to others can lead to feelings of envy, inadequacy, and depression.
The key is to be aware of the dangers of social comparison and to use it in moderation. And, avoid the hindrances by accepting yourself for who you are, setting realistic goals, and appreciating your own progress.
Comparing ourselves to others is something we all do. It’s human nature. And, social media makes it easier than ever to compare ourselves to others. When we compare ourselves to others, we can either feel motivated or discouraged. It all depends on our mindset and how we interpret the comparisons. Now, be aware of the benefits and dangers of social comparison theory and be mindful of how you compare yourself to others.
A Word From Therapy Mantra
Your mental health — Your psychological, emotional, and social well-being — has an impact on every aspect of your life. Positive mental health essentially allows you to effectively deal with life’s everyday challenges.
At TherapyMantra, we have a team of therapists who provide affordable online therapy to assist you with issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, workplace Issues, addiction, relationship, OCD, LGBTQ, and PTSD. You can book a free therapy or download our free Android or iOS app.