The neuroscience of social comparison and competition

Avishalom Tor, Stephen M. Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study of competition froma social comparison perspective offers valuable insights into the neuroscience of social judgment and decision making under uncertainty. When engaging in social comparison, individuals seek and assess information about similarities or differences between others and themselves, in large part to improve their self-evaluation. By providing information about one’s relative position, abilities, outcomes, and more, social comparisons can inform competitive judgments and decisions. People reasonably turn to social comparisons to reduce uncertainty before, during, and after competition. However, the extent to which they do so and the behavioral consequences of social comparisons often fail to match the potential benefits of improved self-evaluation. An examination of the developing neuroscience of social comparison and competition in light of the behavioral evidence reveals numerous questions that merit further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)920-943
Number of pages24
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Psychonomic Society, Inc.


  • Competition
  • Downward comparison
  • Neuroscience
  • Self-evaluation
  • Social comparison
  • Uncertainty
  • Upward comparison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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