Monday, December 6, 2010

Social Comparison Theory

The social comparison theory states that individuals set their goals according to how that person stands within a particular group. This essentially means that a person has to first identify him- or herself as part of a group first, and from this group identity he or she will then form goals in relation to the goals of the rest of the group. According to the text, individuals who exceed the group's average expectations tend to lower performance goals in the future, and members who do not meet the group's expectations tend to raise theirs; in a group, all the members attempt to arrive at the same goals. Through this process, the group's goals and the individual members of the group's goal become the same, for example playing good music is not only the goal of a group, but it is also the goal of the members of the group.
Personally, I have a slightly different take on the social comparison theory. When I associate myself as part of a group, whether it be a student, musician, or a worker, I tend to use the other members of the group as motivation to be the best I can be. I always try to be the best, not only to exceed the average group expectancy but to be at the top. If I do not get the best grades on a test, I work harder to be the best. Musically, if there is a passage that someone else can play that I cannot, I work harder until I can do that too. I am constantly evaluating my group "rank" so to speak, and I use the achievements of others within my group as my motivation.


  1. This can even be seen in the classroom. When a professor curves you get those kids who "ruin the curve" by performing better than the social norm of the class which would make the curve less lenient. While it may help propel you along, it could also hinder you, whether it is the curve maintainer or the curve changer.