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Research Article

Impact of Upward Comparisons with Outgroup Members on Self-Esteem in an Asymmetrical Intergroup Comparison Context

Authors:

Delphine Martinot ,

Laboratoire de Psychologie Sociale de la Cognition (LAPSCO), Université Blaise Pascal, 34 avenue Carnot, 673037 Clermont-Ferrand Cedex, FR
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Sandrine Redersdorff

University of Clermont-Ferrand, FR
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Abstract

Although upward comparison may threaten people’s self-esteem, it has been argued that this is not the case it the comparison other is an outgroup member. In the latter case, people may protect their self-esteem by dismissing the comparison information involving outgroup members as not self-relevant. We suggest that this self-protective strategy may not work when the outgroup is being perceived as superior to the ingroup on the comparison dimension, so that upward comparison docs lower people’s self-esteem in an asymmetrical group situation. To test this hypothesis, participants were led to believe that they were inductive rather than deductive thinkers. After doing a test presumably designed to assess cither their emotional intelligence or their logical intelligence, they were exposed to bogus information on the performance of another individual who was always described as a deductive thinker and who had performed either better (upward comparison) or worse (downward comparison) than the participants themselves. Supporting the hypothesis, inductive thinkers who had been confronted with the superior performance of a deductive thinker on the logical intelligence test (favorable to the latter) reported lower self-esteem than those confronted with the superior performance of a deductive thinker on the emotional task (unfavorable to the latter). In the former case, the unfavorable position of the ingroup in the asymmetrical comparison context could explain such a result.

How to Cite: Martinot, D. and Redersdorff, S., 2002. Impact of Upward Comparisons with Outgroup Members on Self-Esteem in an Asymmetrical Intergroup Comparison Context. Psychologica Belgica, 42(1-2), pp.131–149. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/pb.990
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Published on 01 Jan 2002.
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