When you walk into a new office for that crunch job interview, several thoughts will pop into your head. While planning for those tough questions, you’ll also be working out how to fit in.
According to new research from Thomas Mussweiler, London Business School (LBS) Professor of Organisational Behaviour, the desire to be accepted is driven by social comparison – a process which takes place almost involuntarily – where you compare yourself to other people.
Much of Professor Mussweiler’s research focuses on social comparison processes – examining how we compare ourselves to others and thereby change our self-image, motivation and performance. Work in this field has shown that social comparison facilitates thinking in personal perception, emotion, attitudes and problem-solving.
Now, with co-author Dr Matt Baldwin, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Social Cognition Center in Cologne, their new paper The culture of social comparison published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) maps US social comparison data from Google, available through Google Correlate.
The paper looks at search frequencies for a variety of emotion-related words that indicate social comparison such as ‘jealous’ and ‘pride’. Using a novel and innovative technique meant a lot of background work went into validating the method used in the paper, to ensure the results captured psychologically relevant reactions.