Purdue University Graduate School
Rachel Taggart dissertation (FINAL).pdf (526.6 kB)

Me Compared to you, Me Compared to Me: Do Social and Temporal Comparison Processes Moderate the Effect of Ostracism on Wellbeing?

Download (526.6 kB)
posted on 2024-06-12, 16:28 authored by Rachel S TaggartRachel S Taggart

Ostracism negatively affects wellbeing, and its effects are especially detrimental when individuals are unable to cope. A growing body of literature explores interventions that facilitate recovery from ostracism. Research indicates that the comparisons we make with others (social comparisons) or with ourselves (temporal comparisons) serve many functions, from helping us evaluate ourselves and our experiences to enhancing self-esteem. The direction of these comparisons has important implications for wellbeing: downward comparisons (with a worse comparison target) can enhance wellbeing, whereas upward comparisons (with a better comparison target) can harm wellbeing when a sense of contrast is elicited. This dissertation examined whether downward social and temporal comparisons mitigate the detrimental effects of ostracism on wellbeing and whether upward social and temporal comparisons exacerbate these effects. In three studies, participants underwent an ostracism (or control) condition, and some were randomly assigned to make social or temporal comparisons. In Studies 1 and 2, I manipulated ostracism by having participants recall an ostracism event in their lives; in Study 3, ostracism was manipulated with Cyberball. In Study 1, participants either wrote about a time things were worse (downward temporal comparison) or better for them (upward temporal comparison), whereas, in Studies 2 and 3, participants either wrote about someone else doing worse (downward social comparison) or better than them (upward social comparison). All studies measured psychological need satisfaction, positive affect, and satisfaction with life. Though Study 1 produced null results, in Studies 2 and 3, downward social comparisons increased need satisfaction compared to upward social comparisons and increased positive affect and satisfaction with life in Study 3. Results suggest downward social comparisons may have positive consequences for wellbeing.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Psychological Sciences

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Kipling D. Williams

Additional Committee Member 2

William G. Graziano

Additional Committee Member 3

Christopher R. Agnew

Additional Committee Member 4

Sien (Louis) C. Tay

Usage metrics



    Ref. manager