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Brain mechanisms of social comparison and their influence on the reward system




Organisational Behaviour

Authors / Editors

Kedia G;Mussweiler T;Linden D E J

Publication Year



Whenever we interact with others, we judge them and whenever we make such judgments, we compare them with ourselves, other people, or internalized standards. Countless social psychological experiments have shown that comparative thinking plays a ubiquitous role in person perception and social cognition as a whole. The topic of social comparison has recently aroused the interest of social neuroscientists, who have begun to investigate its neural underpinnings. The present article provides an overview of these neuroimaging and electrophysiological studies. We discuss recent findings on the consequences of social comparison on the brain processing of outcomes and highlight the role of the brain's reward system. Moreover, we analyze the relationship between the brain networks involved in social comparisons and those active during other forms of cognitive and perceptual comparison. Finally, we discuss potential future questions that research on the neural correlates of social comparison could address.


Dorsal anterior cingulate cortex; Mentalizing; Medial prefrontal cortex; Neuroimaging; Parietal cortex; Person perception; Reward system; Social cognition; Social comparison; Ventral striatum

Available on ECCH


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