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The Effects of Self-Esteem and Situation Upon Comparison Choices During Ability Evaluation

Stephen R. Wilson and Larry A. Benner
Sociometry
Vol. 34, No. 3 (Sep., 1971), pp. 381-397
DOI: 10.2307/2786205
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2786205
Page Count: 17
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The Effects of Self-Esteem and Situation Upon Comparison Choices During Ability Evaluation
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Abstract

Earlier experiments (see Wheeler et al., 1969) showed that when a person has a vague idea that he is somewhere in the middle of the group with respect to an ability, he will choose the person ranking highest in the ability as a comparison other when given the chance to gain more information about his position. These experiments utilized a private comparison situation where the outcome of the comparison would be known only by the subject. It was predicted that in a public situation, where comparison occurs through compettition with another member while others evaluate the outcome, there would be more defensive avoidance of the highest ranking person than in the private situation. It was also predicted that in the public situation a person with high self-esteem would be more likely to choose the highest in ability as a comparison other while those with low self-esteem would choose someone lower in ability. Further, it was expected that in the public situation, defensive avoidance of the highest ranking person, and the effect of self-esteem would be greater when a person was certain about his standing in the group. An experiment was designed to test these predictions. The predictions were supported for male subjects while females showed some deviations from the predictions.

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