Children's use of social comparison standards in judging performance and their effects on self-evaluation

Children's use of social comparison standards in judging performance and their effects on self-evaluation

By
Linda J. Keil, C. G. McClintock, Roderick M. Kramer, M. J. Plato
Contemporary Educational Psychology. January
1990, Vol. 15, Pages 75-91

The use of a standard of social comparison by children to evaluate their classroom performance has been cited as an important determinant of their perceptions of both success and failure and their overall level of ability. This study examined the effects of information about both children’s own outcomes and those of a peer on their self-evaluation. It was observed that (1) the number of children evaluating performance on a task in terms of own performance relative to another’s increased with age; (2) boys were more likely than girls to make such comparative evaluations; (3) cooperative vs competitive task instructions did not differentially influence the likelihood of comparative evaluations; and (4) across age levels, children who were outperformed and evaluated their performance comparatively rated their ability and effort significantly lower than those who were outperformed but did not evaluate their performance comparatively.

The present research was supported by two grants, NSF Grant BNS-80-16214 and NSF Grant BNS-83-14500.

Corresponding author contact information
Please address reprint requests to C. G. McClintock, Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106.