Salience of comparison standards and the activation of social norms: Consequences for judgements of happiness and their communication

Demonstrated the impact of social comparison standards on evaluations of subjective well-being in 2 studies with 90 university students. The presence of another person who was relatively worse off led to more positive judgments of Ss' own happiness. This effect was increased when Ss' attention was directed toward the comparison person by a natural salience manipulation when the questionnaire was filled out. In Study 2, the mode of communication (private vs public) and the apparent state of health of the comparison person (physically disabled or not) were varied. Ss reported higher well-being in face-to-face interviews than in questionnaires only when the interviewer was not disabled. Both cognitive and communicative mechanisms must be taken into account to understand determinants of judgments of subjective well-being. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)