How Social Comparisons Get in the Way of Success

Francesca GinoOne of the factors that derail our decisions has to do with forces from our relationships is due to social comparisons.  Now since we are human beings, whenever we try to evaluate ourselves on several dimensions from how good we are as decision makers to how good we are at solving problems or how creative we are.  We look at others – our peers, colleagues and friends in order to evaluate ourselves.  But those types of social comparisons can come in the way when we are implementing our plans.

So, for example, there is some really interesting research coming out of Kellogg showing the following.  Imagine you’re an MBA student who graduated recently and you’re considering different job offers.  The first offer is with a company that you really like and the job is for $150,000 a year.  This is your base salary.  And you know that your peers, people who graduated from your own program, are also offered similar jobs for the same compensation, $150,000.  Now there is a second job offer that you’re considering and it’s one where this time you’ll be joining a different company but it’s also a company that you very much like.  And the salary’s a little bit higher.  It’s $175,000 – so $25,000 higher than the previous one.  This time you know that other people like you – so peers and graduates from your same program are being offered similar jobs for $185,000.  What the data suggests is that if you were presented with this situation, you would tend to choose the first job – the one that has a lower salary. 

And the reason is that the social comparison that is triggered by the second job is making you feel uneasy.  And so you’d rather go with the job that pays less but knowing that you fare as well when comparing yourself to your peers.  So social comparison can really come in the way of good decision making and can derail us as we implement our plans.  So what should we do about that?  Once again the solution is, in a sense, intuitive but difficult to apply.  As we’re making decisions we should ask ourselves questions about the information that we are using to make those decisions and whether it’s information about ourselves only or social comparisons are trickling in and affecting the way we are thinking about the problem or the decision itself. 

Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

 

When social comparison trickle into the decisions we make, it affects the way we think about the problem or the decision itself.

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

Are we all multiple personalities of universal consciousness?

Bernardo Kastrup proposes a new ontology he calls “idealism” built on panpsychism, the idea that everything in the universe contains consciousness. He solves problems with this philosophy by adding a new suggestion: The universal mind has dissociative identity disorder.

We’re all one mind in "idealism." (Credit: Alex Grey)
Mind & Brain

There’s a reason they call it the “hard problem.” Consciousness: Where is it? What is it? No one single perspective seems to be able to answer all the questions we have about consciousness. Now Bernardo Kastrup thinks he’s found one. He calls his ontology idealism, and according to idealism, all of us and all we perceive are manifestations of something very much like a cosmic-scale dissociative identity disorder (DID). He suggests there’s an all-encompassing universe-wide consciousness, it has multiple personalities, and we’re them.

Keep reading Show less

How the appendix may kick-start Parkinson’s

Is the appendix a useless organ, an immune system benefactor, a Parkinson's disease instigator, or all of the above?

(Photo from Flickr)
Surprising Science
  • As far back as Darwin, scientists have thought the appendix was a vestigial organ, but opinions have changed in recent years.
  • A new study found that the appendix houses Lewy bodies, abnormal protein deposits that contribute to Parkinson's disease.
  • Researchers suggest an appendectomy may lower one's risk of Parkinson's, while other research suggests the appendix has important roles to play in our immune system.
Keep reading Show less