Self-construal and social comparison effects

Wing Yi Rebecca CHENG, Shui-fong LAM

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Social comparison research usually demonstrates that students will have higher self‐evaluation in downward comparison but lower self‐evaluation in upward comparison. However, the existence of this contrast effect may depend on people's self‐construal. The contrast effect may exist only for people with independent self‐construal. For people with interdependent self‐construal, the contrast effect may be attenuated.
Aim. The study investigated the role of self‐construal as a moderator of the social comparison effects in authentic classrooms.
Sample. The participants were 96 Chinese seventh‐grade students (41 male, 51 female and 4 unreported) from a secondary school in Hong Kong.
Method. The experiment employed a 2 × 2 between‐subjects design based on 2 levels of self‐construal (independent, interdependent) and 2 levels of comparison standard (upward comparison, downward comparison). The dependent variable was students' self‐evaluation.
Results. A two‐way ANOVA indicated a significant interaction between self‐construal and comparison standard on self‐evaluation. When the students' independent self‐construal was activated, they reported higher self‐evaluation in downward comparison but lower self‐evaluation in upward comparison. However, such a contrast effect was attenuated when the students' interdependent self‐construal was activated. They reported high self‐evaluation in both upward and downward comparisons.
Conclusions. The outcome of social comparison depends on whether independent or interdependent self‐construal is salient in the classroom. Copyright © 2007 The British Psychological Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-211
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


Cheng, R. W.-Y., & Lam, S.-F. (2007). Self-construal and social comparison effects. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77(1), 197-211. doi: 10.1348/000709905X72795


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