Upward social comparisons have been shown to impact people's self-views, their emotional states, and their behaviors. The present research suggests that such comparisons may also influence the goals that people pursue and the success with which they pursue them. Inspired by goal systems theory, the present research examines how upward social comparisons influence goal commitment in two ways: through hierarchical shifts toward global goals and through lateral shifts in goal commitment away from subgoals in threatening domains. We demonstrate that people actively disengage from domain-specific subgoals (e.g., verbal abilities) and increase commitment to a related superordinate goal (e.g., succeeding in school) after they have been exposed to an upward comparison that threatens their self-evaluations.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/camille_johnson/10/