Social Comparison and Temporal Life Satisfaction
In his theory of social comparison, Festinger (1954) identified the idea that human beings have the drive to look at others in order to evaluate their own opinions and abilities. Social comparison is categorized into two forms, namely downward and upward. Downward comparison occurs when an individual compares to others who are deemed as socially worse off, while upward social comparison acts in the opposite direction.
Over the years, there have been various studies on the directional effects of both upward and downward comparison on an individual’s self evaluation. According to Suls, Martin, & Wheeler (2002), both downward and ...view middle of the document...
As such, the problem identified for this research project is:
The result from this study is aimed at raising awareness amongst NTU students about the effects of social comparison on life satisfaction. With better knowledge of the related effects of upward and downward comparison, the students would then know how to better motivate themselves by choosing the more appropriate reference comparison in order to achieve greater temporal life satisfaction.
In order to investigate if downward or upward comparison leads to greater life satisfaction, the following hypotheses are tested:
In this report, a one-tailed independent t-test will be conducted to determine if there is significant support for the prediction that downward comparison leads to higher temporal life satisfaction as compared to upward comparison.
On top of which, a few terms are first properly defined to prevent any ambiguity and uncertainty throughout the length of the report. As such, downward and upward social comparison are defined as comparing oneself to a target who is deemed socially worse off or better off, respectively. In addition, total life satisfaction refers to the past, present and future life satisfaction, which is measured by the 15-item Temporal Satisfaction with Life Scale (TSWLS) by Pavot, Diener and Suh (1998).
We list down the assumptions that we have made for the study to be as such:
1. The participants of the questionnaire are representative of the NTU student population.
2. The upward and downward comparison treatments done in the study were effective conditions that allow participants to be upwardly and downwardly compared respectively.
The Questionnaire Study
Participants were asked to fill up a computerized questionnaire individually during their respective tutorial timeslots. They were informed that the questionnaire was meant as a form of data collection for one of their curriculum modules.
In order to generate upward and downward social comparison respectively, the participants were made to read a short paragraph describing the life of a female individual, to which they were to compare their lives to, at the start of the questionnaire. This was to subject participants to two forms of social comparison without their knowledge. The participants were then given a questionnaire to complete. The questionnaire is meant to measure the level of satisfaction that participants feel about their lives in the past, current and future. They had no knowledge about the purpose of the experiment, other than being informed that the responses would be used for their current research project.
In total, 133 participants took part in the experiment. The sample group was made up of undergraduates who were pursuing different majors in Nanyang Technological University (NTU). They were young adults in the age group between 18 to 24 years old,...