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What Makes You Think You're so Popular? Self-Evaluation Maintenance and the Subjective Side of the "Friendship Paradox"

Ezra W. Zuckerman and John T. Jost
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 64, No. 3 (Sep., 2001), pp. 207-223
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3090112
Page Count: 17
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What Makes You Think You're so Popular? Self-Evaluation Maintenance and the Subjective Side of the "Friendship Paradox"
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Abstract

We report on a survey of undergraduates at the University of Chicago in which respondents were asked to assess their popularity relative to others. Popularity estimates were related to actual popularity, but we also found strong evidence of self-enhancement in self-other comparisons of popularity. In particular, self-enhancement was stronger for self versus friend comparisons than for self versus "typical other" comparisons; this is contrary to the reality demonstrated in Feld's "friendship paradox" and suggests that people are more threatened by the success of friends than of strangers. At the same time, people with relatively popular friends tended to make more self-serving estimates of their own popularity than did people with less popular friends. These results clarify how objective patterns of interpersonal contact work together with cognitive and motivational tendencies to shape perceptions of one's location in the social world.

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