Better off and far away: Reactions to others’ outcomes depends on their distance

Daniel A. Yudkin, Nira Liberman, Cheryl Wakslak, Yaacov Trope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Research shows that people's satisfaction with outcomes they receive (e.g., a prize) is influenced by their standing relative to targets of comparison. Here we investigated whether the similarity of the comparison target influences which outcome features most strongly affect satisfaction. Drawing on Construal Level Theory, which contends that people use high level construals to transcend psychological distance, we show that comparing to more dissimilar targets increases the salience of high- versus low-level features of outcomes. Experiment 1 demonstrates that people seek out high-level information when they believe they are comparing to psychologically distant others. Experiments 2–4 show that high-level information, relative to low-level information, exerts greater weight on satisfaction when the comparison target is far versus near. Experiment 5 shows these effects can be explained by variations in construal level. Overall, this research highlights the importance of distant others in influencing people's sense of relative deprivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-23
Number of pages11
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume156
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Construal level
  • Relative deprivation
  • Social comparison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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