People usually tend to over-estimate their own capabilities and qualities compared to others. For examples, people tend to believe they are more intelligent, trustworthy, moral and happier than others, as well as making better leaders, and drivers. However, when it comes to thinking about our social lives, what little we know seems to indicate that we think other people have more rich, vibrant and satisfying social lives than we do ourselves.
Join me as I talk with Sebastian Deri – postgraduate researcher at Cornell University in the USA – as we talk about his paper about a series of 11 experiments designed to explore how we compare our social lives to others and where our pessimistic bias might come from.
Here is the link to the abstract of the paper we talk about in this week’s show:
Although decades of research show that people tend to see themselves in the best possible light, we present evidence that people have a surprisingly grim outlook on their social lives. In 11 studies (N = 3,293; including 3 preregistered), we find that most people think that others lead richer and more active social lives than they do themselves. We show that this bias holds across multiple populations (college students, MTurk respondents, shoppers at a local mall, and participants from a large, income-stratified online panel), correlates strongly with well-being, and is particularly acute for social activities (e.g., the number of parties one attends or proximity to the “inner circle” of one’s social sphere). We argue that this pessimistic bias stems from the fact that trendsetters and socialites come most easily to mind as a standard of comparison and show that reducing the availability of extremely social people eliminates this bias. We conclude by discussing implications for research on social comparison and self-enhancement.