Asymmetric Social Comparison and Life Satisfaction in Social Networks

Francisco OLIVOS*, Pablo OLIVOS-JARA, Magdalena BROWN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study is to understand the effect of asymmetric social comparison on subjective well-being, and how it differs due to reciprocity. Our approach considers the social network of individuals as a local reference group. We tested competing hypotheses on negative and positive effects of comparison with worse-off (downward) and better-off (upward) targets with a representative sample of 1596 Chileans over the age of 18. The findings support that life satisfaction is influenced by social comparison. By considering the social network as a reference group, the positive effect of downward comparison and the negative effect of upward comparison are confirmed. Upward comparison seems to be more substantial than downward comparison. Additionally, the positive effect of downward comparison decreases slightly with a reciprocal exchange of support between respondents and targets. The application of social network analysis opens a path to understanding the mechanisms underlying social comparison processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-384
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number1
Early online date18 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature B.V.


  • Asymmetric social comparison
  • Happiness
  • Reciprocity
  • Social networks


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