Social Comparison

  • C. Peter HermanEmail author
  • Janet Polivy
  • Patricia Pliner
  • Lenny R. Vartanian


A large literature shows that people compare themselves to others on a wide variety of dimensions; this is called social comparison. Such comparisons to other people can provide useful guides for our behavior, and they may also have emotional consequences, affecting our self-esteem and happiness. We compare ourselves to others with respect to our food consumption as well as other behaviors related to eating. For example, we compare how much food others are eating as compared to our portions, what types of foods others eat, dimensions related to eating such as body weight and shape and even dimensions not directly related to eating such as social status. Such food-related social comparisons can affect not only our eating but our emotions and other behaviors as well. We want to “look good,” act appropriately, and be treated fairly, relative to others, and social comparisons around food and eating are important contributors to this.


Social comparison Emotional response Amount of food Food choices Appropriate foods 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Peter Herman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Janet Polivy
    • 2
  • Patricia Pliner
    • 2
  • Lenny R. Vartanian
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Toronto, MississaugaMississaugaCanada
  3. 3.School of PsychologyUNSW SydneySydneyAustralia

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