How social neuroscience can inform theories of social comparison

Jillian K. Swencionis, Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Social comparison pervades our interactions with others, informing us of our standing and motivating improvement, but producing negative emotional and behavioral consequences that can harm relationships and lead to poor health outcomes. Social neuroscience research has begun to illuminate some mechanisms by which status divides lead to interpersonal consequences. This review integrates core findings on the neuroscience of social comparison processes, showing the effects of comparing the self to relevant others on dimensions of competence and warmth. The literature converges to suggest that relative status divides initiate social comparison processes, that upward and downward comparisons initiate pain- and pleasure-related neural responses, and that these responses can predict people[U+05F3]s kindly or aggressive intentions toward one another. Across different types of comparisons, brain regions involved in mentalizing are also sometimes involved. Along with future work, the research reviewed here may inform efforts to mitigate negative outcomes of constant social comparisons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-146
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Envy
  • Power
  • Schadenfreude
  • Social comparison
  • Social neuroscience
  • Status


Dive into the research topics of 'How social neuroscience can inform theories of social comparison'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this