ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2020, Vol. 52 ›› Issue (5): 645-658.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.00645

• 研究报告 • 上一篇    下一篇


宫秀双, 张红红()   

  1. 江南大学商学院, 江苏 无锡 214122
  • 收稿日期:2019-06-06 发布日期:2020-03-26 出版日期:2020-05-25
  • 通讯作者: 张红红
  • 基金资助:
    * 教育部人文社会科学研究青年基金项目(20YJC630025);中央高校基本科研业务费专项资金(JUSRP11993);中央高校基本科研业务费专项资金(2019JDZD07);江苏高校哲学社会科学研究项目资助(2019SJA0761);江苏省社会科学基金项目研究成果(19GLD004)

Outstanding others vs. mediocre me: The effect of social comparison on uniqueness-seeking behavior

GONG Xiushuang, ZHANG Honghong()   

  1. School of Business, Jiangnan University, Wuxi 214122, China
  • Received:2019-06-06 Online:2020-03-26 Published:2020-05-25
  • Contact: ZHANG Honghong


人们在自我评价中普遍存在着优于平均值效应, 而上行社会比较会打破这一自我评价偏差, 引发后续的补偿性消费行为。通过5个实验, 依次论证上行比较(vs.下行比较)会提升个体对独特产品选项的偏好(实验1); 其心理机制在于上行比较降低了而非下行比较提升了个体的自我独特性感知, 从而促使个体出于补偿的目的而寻求独特性(实验2a、2b和2c); 上述效应适用于经济状况这一特定比较维度, 并且在感知经济流动性的调节作用下得到强化或削弱(实验3)。研究结论对于推动社会比较和独特性寻求行为相关领域的理论进展, 指导长尾市场中企业的营销策略、帮助个体缓解上行比较的威胁均有着积极的启示价值。

关键词: 社会比较, 独特性寻求行为, 优于平均值效应, 补偿性消费, 感知经济流动性


Uniqueness-seeking behavior can be driven by various factors. Despite the common phenomenon that better-off individuals seem to seek more uniqueness and express individuality more frequently, no researcher has investigated whether and how social comparison influences uniqueness-seeking behavior. According to the better-than-average effect, people tend to perceive themselves better off than the average on many important dimensions and are inclined to see themselves as unique when there are no social comparisons. Building on the compensatory consumption model, we aim to investigate the impact of social comparison on uniqueness-seeking behavior, and further examine why this effect occurs as well as when it will be attenuated or intensified.
In social comparisons, comparing upwardly (vs. downwardly) may threaten individuals’ pervasively held better-than-average self-evaluation bias, which motivates them to adjust their self-evaluations downwardly to the average. Prior research suggests that the average is mostly seen as ordinary, mediocre and unexceptional. Therefore, we infer that people comparing upwardly may experience a decreased sense of uniqueness, which drives them to seek unique options in subsequent unrelated contexts. This effect holds for many dimensions, such as economic status. In that case, perceived economic mobility acts as an important moderator. We predict that when perceived economic mobility is high, threats induced by upward comparisons will be mitigated, as are individuals’ psychological and behavioral responses. However, when perceived economic mobility is low, the responses will be intensified.
Across five experiments, we demonstrate that upward comparisons increase consumer preference for less popular scenic spots (Study 1). The psychological mechanism underlying this effect is that upward comparisons lower perceived uniqueness, leading individuals to choose minority-endorsed products to compensate for the negative self-discrepancy (studies 2a and 2c). The fundamental driving force of the main effect is that upward comparisons increase consumers’ uniqueness-seeking tendency (Study 2b). Furthermore, when comparing upwardly on economic status, consumers still show stronger preference for niche book clubs, and the effect of social comparison on perceived uniqueness and uniqueness seeking will be mitigated when perceived economic mobility is high but is strengthened when perceived economic mobility is low (Study 3).
The present research provides evidence that upward comparisons can lead to uniqueness-seeking behavior by examining the mediating role of perceived uniqueness, supporting our basic premise that individuals perceive themselves as unique when making no comparisons. In doing this, we make theoretical contributions to research on both uniqueness seeking and the strategies for coping with upward comparisons. This also sheds light on marketing strategies that enterprises can employ to increase sales of unpopular or customized products as well as coping strategies that consumers can use to alleviate threats of upward comparisons on different dimensions.

Key words: social comparison, uniqueness-seeking behavior, better-than-average effect, compensatory consumption, perceived economic mobility