Downward Comparison as a Coping Mechanism

  • Thomas Ashby Wills
Part of the The Plenum Series on Stress and Coping book series (SSSO)

Abstract

This chapter discusses the use of downward comparison as a means of reducing the psychological impact of negative life events. I focus on how social comparison processes can be used by distressed persons to maintain or enhance their subjective well-being. The essence of downward comparison as a coping mechanism is to arrange comparison with other persons so that the outcome of the comparison is favorable to the self. Through this process, the self is perceived to be better off (in some sense) than the comparison target; the favorable outcome of the comparison process thus produces an enhancement of the person’s psychological state. In the following sections I outline the theoretical basis for downward comparison as a coping mechanism, summarize the current empirical support for downward comparison processes, and discuss a number of empirical issues for further research on coping through social comparison.

Keywords

Social Comparison Coping Mechanism Negative Life Event Comparison Process Coping Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Ashby Wills
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Psychology and EpidemiologyFerkauf Graduate School of Psychology and Albert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA

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