Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 18 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Social comparisons in the physical health domain can serve several motives, including self-evaluation, self-enhancement, and the finding of common bonds. Comparisons may be made with actual people, media role models, or with implicit “created-in-the-head” norms. Such norms, including the false consensus effect and unrealistic optimism, can undermine health-promotive practices. Comparisons also affect the interpretation of ambiguous somatic changes that might be indicative of physical illness. Symptom appraisal via comparison is discussed in the context of the lay referral network and mass psychogenic illness. Experiencing acute or chronic illness produces uncertainty and threat, which elicit both self-evaluation and self-enhancement motives. These instigate comparisons, leading to assimilation or contrast with better- or worse-off or more knowledgeable targets. Implications of social comparison research and theory for public health campaigns and medical practice are discussed.

Keywords: Social comparison, unrealistic optimism, false consensus effect, upward comparison, downward comparison, social support groups, self-enhancement, self-evaluation

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.