The influence of social comparison on visual representation of one's face

Ethan Zell, Emily Balcetis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Can the effects of social comparison extend beyond explicit evaluation to visual self-representation-a perceptual stimulus that is objectively verifiable, unambiguous, and frequently updated? We morphed images of participants' faces with attractive and unattractive references. With access to a mirror, participants selected the morphed image they perceived as depicting their face. Participants who engaged in upward comparison with relevant attractive targets selected a less attractive morph compared to participants exposed to control images (Study 1). After downward comparison with relevant unattractive targets compared to control images, participants selected a more attractive morph (Study 2). Biased representations were not the products of cognitive accessibility of beauty constructs; comparisons did not influence representations of strangers' faces (Study 3). We discuss implications for vision, social comparison, and body image.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere36742
JournalPloS one
Volume7
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 25 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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