Document Type : Research Paper


University of Guilan


Social Comparison is important as it can be either encouraging or discouraging for the person who makes it. Although studies concerning social comparison in the classroom context abound, few deal with the relationship between the role of social comparison orientation and tendencies in academic achievement in a competition based educational context. Adopting a non- experimental ex-post facto design, this study examines such relationship on 387 English Major Students studying in different Iranian universities in the academic year 2014- 2015. Data were collected through a modified version of Iowa-Netherlands Comparison Orientation Measure (INCOM). The results, obtained through the statistical techniques of correlation and multinomial logistic regression, revealed that there is a significant relationship between social comparison and academic achievement. Moreover, the results indicated that high comparison orientation and upward tendency for students predict higher academic achievement, and low social comparison orientation and high downward tendency predict lower academic achievement. The findings call for further research on the underlying internal factors that lead to achievement and the similarity of individuals' social comparison behavior in the classroom context, irrespective of culture and context.


Blanton, A., Buunk, B. P., Gibbons, F. X., & Kuyper, H. (1999).When better-than-others compare upward: Choice of comparison and comparative evaluation as independent predictors of academic performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(3), 420-430.
Bounoua, L., Cury, F., Regner, I., Huguet, P., Barron, K. E., & Elliot, A. J. (2012). Motivated use of information about others: Linking the 2×2 achievement goal model to social comparison propensities and processes. British Journal of Social Psychology51(4), 626-641.
Buckingham, J. T., Zell, E., & Schurtz, D. R. (2012). Social comparison seeking: Providing general comparison curtails local comparison. Current Research in Social Psychology20(5), 58-66.
Buunk, B. P., Kuyper, H., & van der Zee, Y. G. (2005). Affective response to social comparison in the classroom. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 27(3), 229-237.
Farhady, H., Hezaveh, F. S., & Hedayati, H. (2010). Reflections on Foreign Language Education in Iran. TESL-EJ, 13(4). 1-18.
Feldman, D. B., & Kubota, M. (2015). Hope, self-efficacy, optimism, and academic achievement: Distinguishing constructs and levels of specificity in predicting college grade-point average. Learning and Individual Differences, 37, 210-216.
Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human Relations, 7, 117–140.
Friend, R. M., & Gilbert, J. (1973). Threat and fear of negative evaluation as determinants of locus of social comparison. Journal of Personality, 41, 328-340.
Gibbons, F. X., & Buunk, B. P. (1999). Individual differences in social comparison: development of a scale of social comparison orientation. Journal of personality and Social Psychology, 76(1), 129–142.
Harter, S. (2015). The construction of the self: Developmental and sociocultural foundations. Guilford Publications.
Huguet, P., Dumas, F., Monteil, J. M., & Genestoux, N. (2001). Social comparison choices in the classroom: further evidence for students' upward comparison tendency and its beneficial impact on performance. European Journal of Social Psychology, 31(5), 557-578.
Kuyper, H., Dijkstra, P., Buunk, A. P., & van der Werf, M. P. (2011). Social comparisons in the classroom: An investigation of the better than average effect among secondary school children. Journal of School Psychology, 49, 25-53.
Lewis, N., & Weaver, A. J. (2015). Emotional Responses to Social Comparisons in Reality Television Programming. Journal of Media Psychology.
Li, X., Hou, Z. J., & Jia, Y. (2015). The influence of social comparison on career decision-making: Vocational identity as a moderator and regret as a mediator. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 86, 10-19.
Marsh, H. W., Kuyper, H., Morin, A. J., Parker, P. D., & Seaton, M. (2014). Big-fish-little-pond social comparison and local dominance effects: Integrating new statistical models, methodology, design, theory and substantive implications. Learning and Instruction33, 50-66.
Pallant, J. (2010). SPSS survival manual: A step by step guide to data analysis using SPSS. McGraw-Hill International.
Pedhazur, E. J. (1997). Multiple regression in behavioral research: Explanation and prediction. New York: Harcourt Brace.
Porter, M. E., & Kramer, M. R. (2002). The competitive advantage of corporate philanthropy. Harvard business review, 80(12), 56-68.
Pyszczynski, T., Greenberg, J., & LaPrelle, J. (1985). Social comparison after success and failure: Biased search for information consistent with a self-serving conclusion. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 21, 195-211.
Schneider, S. M., & Schupp, J. (2011). The social comparison scale: testing the validity, reliability, and applicability of the Iowa-Netherlands Comparison Orientation Measure (INCOM) on the German population. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from
Starkweather, J., & Moske, A. K. (2011). Multinomial logistic regression. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from
Suls, J. M., & Tesch, F. (1978). Students' Preferences for Information About Their Test Performance: A Social Comparison Study1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 8(2), 189-197.
Suls, J., & Wheeler, L. (2000). A selective history of classic and neo-social comparison theory. In J. Suls & L.Wheeler (Eds.). Handbook of Social Comparison: Theory and Research (pp.3-19). New York: Springer Science.
Taylor, S., & Lobel, M. (1989). Social comparison activity under threat: Downward evaluation and upward contacts. Psychological Review, 96, 569-575.
Wills, T. A. (1981). Downward comparison principles in social psychology. Psychological Bulletin, 90, 245-271.
Wilson, H. E. (2009). A model of academic self-concept: Perceived difficulty, social comparison, and achievement among academically accelerated secondary school students. Doctoral Dissertation. Retrieved June 21, 2014, from
Wood, J. (1989). Theory and research concerning social comparisons of personal attributes. Psychological Bulletin, 106, 231-248.