Why We Should Use Temporal Rather Than Social Comparisons Based On Leon Festinger


The theory of social comparison states that people compare themselves to others to evaluate their own opinions and abilities. However, there are two different ways these comparisons can be made: temporal or social. Temporal comparisons involve judging oneself based on past experiences, while social comparisons involve judging oneself based on other people’s opinions.

 Why We Should Use Temporal Rather Than Social Comparisons Based Leon Festinger

There are several reasons why we should use temporal comparisons rather than social ones based on Leon Festinger:

Social comparisons tend to be more difficult. Social factors such as the mood of the person or the context of a situation can sway their judgments, making them less accurate than those made using temporal comparisons.

Temporal comparisons are more likely to result in self-enhancement. People tend to recall their past successes more vividly than their failures, so they are more likely to feel good about themselves after making a temporal comparison.

Temporal comparisons allow people to consider all of their experiences, whereas social comparisons often involve comparing just a few aspects of one’s life with others’.

How to Do It in Practice

There are several ways that we can make temporal comparisons in practice. One way is to keep a diary to record your achievements and setbacks each day. This will help you to have a more accurate view of yourself and your progress over time. Alternatively, you can use apps or websites that allow you to track your progress over time. Some examples include Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, and


Examples of How This Has Been Used In the Past and Present-Day Society

Temporal comparisons have been used in several ways in past and present-day society. One example is how we compare our salaries with those of others. We may look at average salaries online or discuss our salaries with friends to better understand where we stand relative to others. Another example is how we compare our vacations or dinner parties with those of others on social media. We may post pictures of our vacations and dinners on Facebook or Instagram and compare them with those of our friends. This can often lead to feelings of envy dissatisfaction.

Overall, we should avoid social comparisons as much as possible and focus on temporal comparisons. We can get a more accurate understanding of how our lives stack up against those of others through these. By using temporal comparisons over social ones, we will make better decisions that lead to happier lives. As Festinger said, “If the reality of a given situation is painful it may be necessary, from a purely self-protective standpoint, to transform this reality into a new set of perceptions which makes this situation less unpleasant” (2021).


Sagepub.com. (2021). Retrieved 21 December 2021, from https://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/4985_Dainton_Chapter_5.pdf

Wilson, A., & Hoshino-Browne, E. (2002). Spontaneous Temporal and Social Comparisons. Relative deprivation: Specification, development, and integration, 313.References

Wood, J. V., & Lockwood, P. (1999). Social comparisons in dysphoric and low self-esteem people. 

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