Maintaining self-rated health through social comparison in old age

Sheung-Tak CHENG, Helene FUNG, Alfred CHAN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


When self-related health (SRH) is under threat, people may use self-enhancement through social comparison to buffer against the threat. Because SRH is under greater threat among older than among younger adults, the benefit of social comparison on SRH may be greater for them. To test this, Study 1 examined ratings on physical attributes for self and “someone of the same age” among 592 Hong Kong Chinese, across young, middle, and old age. Findings suggested that perceiving one's physical self as better than others produced a larger gain in self-rated health in older than in younger people. Study 2 showed longitudinally that, among older adults, an increase in physical symptoms over time was associated with a worsening SRH, which was then positively associated with physical self-enhancement. This improved physical self in turn partially recovered the damage to SRH. Copyright © 2007 The Gerontological Society of America.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-285
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series B
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007


Cheng, S.-T., Fung, H., & Chan, A. (2007). Maintaining self-rated health through social comparison in old age. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 62B(5), P277-P285. doi: 10.1093/geronb/62.5.P277


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