Handbook of Social Comparison

Part of the series The Springer Series in Social Clinical Psychology pp 81-103

Social Comparison and Influence in Groups

  • Donelson R. ForsythAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University

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Kathi Hudson worried that members of Operation Rescue, a pro-life group, were engaged in illegal activities that would limit women’s rights. So she infiltrated the group to spy on their procedures and activities. Two years later she abandoned her pro-choice attitudes and became a born-again Christian. Tobias Schneebaum (1969), a painter from New York City, encountered a tribe called the Akaramas when visiting Peru. For 6 months he lived with them, adopting their customs so completely that he joined them in attacks on neighboring tribes and cannibalistic rituals. David Moore joined a new-age group interested in personal development, religion, and space travel. He gradually adopted the group’s standards as his own, to the point that he believed that a passing comet was actually a spacecraft sent to collect his consciousness. He and 38 other members of the group (Heaven’s Gate) tried to board the ship by committing suicide.