Changes in Social Comparison Orientation over the Life-span

Abraham P. Buunk, Pieternel D Dijkstra, Harke A. Bosma


Background: Social comparison is a basic human process, which may change dependent of one’s age. The purpose of this study was to examine how Social Comparison Orientation (SCO), i.e., the tendency to engage in social comparisons, varied across the lifespan. Method: A representative sample of 1613 adults from the Netherlands filled out the widely used 11-item scale for Social Comparison Orientation (SCO). Age was categorized in terms of decades, including both 19 years or younger and 80 years or older as categories. Results: The results showed a strong curvilinear effect of age: SCO was highest among people 19 years or younger, decreased substantially with increasing age until the age of 60, after which it increased moderately. Women were somewhat higher in SCO than men. Conclusion: The tendency to engage in social comparisons changes considerably over the life span, which may be due to the different challenges and insecurities that people may face in different stages of the life span.

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