The Projective Perception of the Social World

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Festinger (1954) proposed that people seek accurate knowledge of the self, and that to find it, they compare themselves with similar others. He peppered his paper with references to the idea that people have some notion as to who is similar to them and who is not. His followers agree: “Looking for or identifying a similarity or a difference between the other and the self on some dimension [is a] core feature [of the theory]; the majority of comparison researchers implicitly seem to share this definition” (Wood, 1997, p. 521). But how do perceptions of similarity and dissimilarity arise?