Social comparisons in adults with type 2 diabetes: Patients’ reasons for target selection

Danielle Arigo, Max Cornell, Joshua M. Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine reasons for selecting a social comparison target (i.e. a specific other for relative self-evaluation), and their influence on affect and motivation for self-care, in type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Design: Adults with T2DM (n = 180, MA1c = 7.6%) chose to read about one of four targets. Participants rated five reasons for their choice (strongly disagree–strongly agree), and rated affect and self-care motivation before and after reading. Results:To boost confidence in my ability to manage diabetes was rated highest overall (ps < 0.01), though choosing worse-off (vs. better-off) targets was associated with to gain useful information about how to improve (p = 0.04, (Formula presented.) = 0.05). Selection in order to feel better worked for those who chose better-off targets; choosing worse-off targets for this purpose worsened mood and stress (ps < 0.04, (Formula presented.) s = 0.02). Choosing worse-off targets to learn about similar others reduced self-care motivation (p < 0.01, (Formula presented.) = 0.05). Selection in order to boost confidence showed increased motivation only among those who chose better-off targets (p = 0.01). Conclusions: Patients’ reasons for a particular comparison are associated with short-term changes in affect and self-care motivation, and warrant greater empirical and clinical attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)906-924
Number of pages19
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 3 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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