Maintaining self-rated health through social comparison in old age
Journals of Gerontology. Series B: Psychological Sciences & Social Sciences
Oxford University Press
When self-related health (SRH) is under threat, people may use self-enhancement through social comparison to buffer against the threat. Because SRH is under greater threat among older than among younger adults, the benefit of social comparison on SRH may be greater for them. To test this, Study 1 examined ratings on physical attributes for self and ‘someone of the same age’ among 592 Hong Kong Chinese, across young, middle, and old age. Findings suggested that perceiving one’s physical self as better than others produced a lager gain in self-rated health in older than in younger people. Study 2 showed longitudinally that, among older adults, an increase in physical symptoms over time was associated with a worsening SRH, which was then positively associated with physical self-enhancement. This improved physical self in turn partially recovered the damage to SRH.
Cheng, S. T., Fung, H., & Chan, A. (2007). Maintaining self-rated health through social comparison in old age. Journals of Gerontology. Series B: Psychological Sciences & Social Sciences, 62B(5), 277-285. doi: 10.1093/geronb/62.5.P277