The selection of social comparison standards is traditionally assumed to be guided by similarity between the self and the comparison standard. Despite the theoretical and empirical prominence of this similarity hypothesis, however, relatively little is known about the determinants of similarity in standard selection. To remedy this shortcoming we apply recent insights into the role structural alignment-a process of aligning interconnected relational structures of attributes-plays in similarity comparisons to the realm of social comparison. We propose that similarity in relational structures between individual attributes of the target and the standard critically determine which standard is selected for comparison. Consistent with this assumption, Studies 1 and 2 show that inducing a specific relational structure in participants` accessible self-knowledge leads them to select social comparison standards with similar structures. In addition, Study 3 suggests that similarity in relational structures may be a stronger determinant of standard selection than similarity in isolated features. We suggest that a consideration of structural alignment processes may lead to new insights in social comparison theory.
|Journal||Journal of Cognitive Science|
|State||Published - 2007|