Abstract mindsets and social comparison: When global comparisons matter

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When evaluating personal performance, there is a propensity for people to rely more heavily on social comparison information from individuals than from aggregates, which is often more diagnostic—referred to as the Local Dominance Effect. The present research explored the possibility that under certain conditions, a global dominance effect may emerge; that is, in some circumstances people might rely more on average comparison information. Two studies investigated the influence of abstract mind-sets on the use of social comparison information. In Study 1, self-evaluations of participants who were given comparison information from both individual and aggregate sources while in an abstract mind-set were affected more by aggregate than individual comparison information—demonstrating a global dominance effect. Study 2 investigated how construal level influences the use of social comparison information and results indicated that when thinking abstractly, people shifted their attention to average comparison information.