Social Comparison In The Workplace

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Social Comparison in the Workplace “Beauty is a relation, and the apprehension of it a comparison” (Hopkins). As humans, we often look to others in order to appraise our own actions, ideas, or appearance. This phenomenon is explained through the social comparison theory. This particular theory can apply to nearly any social aspect of life. This essay will explain how social comparison theory can elucidate and describe standard human actions and behaviors in typical workplace situations. Comparing ourselves to others in the workplace can give us a way to covertly discern what is expected of us. Social comparison theory was first explained in 1954 by a social psychologist by the name of Leon Festinger. He claimed, “other people who are similar to an individual are especially useful to that individual in generating accurate evaluations of his or her abilities and opinions” (Suls, 2002, p. 159). Since 1954, two models, the proxy model and the triadic model, have been added to the social comparison theory. During the 1980s and 1990s, two basic components were also added to enhance the theory. The first component is known as upward comparison. This kind of comparison happens when a person compares themselves to someone who is somehow consider more privileged that they are. By using upward comparisons, a person can discover similarities between themselves and the more elite group so that they can fit in better to that group. The other component, known as downward social comparison, happens when people compare themselves with a person who may be less fortunate than they are so that they can feel better about their own situation. The social comparison theory has been expanded over the years to explain a variety of different ways in which humans tend to view themselves when interacting with one another. Often in the workplace we encounter a myriad of situations in which
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