Social Comparison and Self-Control
In daily life, people often find themselves in challenging self-control conflicts. Typically, such situations are characterized by a dual-motive conflict between a tempting behavioral option associated with immediate personal benefits, and a more prudent behavioral option associated with future, and often long-term benefits for oneself or others. Because the repeated enactment of the tempting alternative can have substantial long-term costs, understanding the processes affecting decisions and behavior in dual-motive settings has large implications for individual and societal well-being. The present project seeks to more closely link a dual-motive perspective on self-control with a social-cognitive focus on social comparison. To this end, we pursue three lines of research. First, we want to examine how social comparisons affect subsequent self-control by systematically investigating key moderators of assimilation and contrast effects. Second, we investigate how motivational processes influence the choice of social comparison standards. Third, we investigate the implications of engaging in self-control on subsequent social comparison processes. We will do so in the dual-motive context of selfish versus cooperative behavior, one of the most societally relevant themes that would profit immensely, in our view, from a closer look at social comparison processes.