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How Social Neuroscience Can Inform Theories of Social Comparison

Author(s): Swencionis, Jillian K.; Fiske, Susan T.

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Abstract: Social comparison pervades our interactions with others, informing us of our standing and motivating improvement, but producing negative emotional and behavioral consequences that can harm relationships and lead to poor health outcomes. Social neuroscience research has begun to illuminate some mechanisms by which status divides lead to interpersonal consequences. This review integrates core findings on the neuroscience of social comparison processes, showing the effects of comparing the self to relevant others on dimensions of competence and warmth. The literature converges to suggest that relative status divides initiate social comparison processes, that upward and downward comparisons initiate pain- and pleasure- related neural responses, and that these responses can predict people's kindly or aggressive intentions toward one another. Across different types of comparisons, brain regions involved in mentalizing are also sometimes involved. Along with future work, the research reviewed here may inform efforts to mitigate negative outcomes of constant social comparisons.
Publication Date: Apr-2014
Citation: Swencionis, Jillian K., Fiske, Susan T. (2014). How Social Neuroscience Can Inform Theories of Social Comparison, 56 (140 - 146). doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2014.01.009
DOI: doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2014.01.009
ISSN: 0028-3932
Pages: 140 - 146
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Neuropsychologia
Version: Author's manuscript

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