The Effectiveness of Upward and Downward Social Comparison of Physical Activity in an Online Intervention

Julia S. Mollee, Michel C.A. Klein

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

It has been established that social processes play an important role in achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but there are still gaps in the knowledge on how to apply such processes in behavior change interventions. One of these mechanisms is social comparison, i.e. the tendency to self-evaluate by comparing oneself to others. Social comparison can be either downward or upward, depending on whether individuals compare themselves to a target that performs worse or better. Depending on personal preferences, the variants can have beneficial or adverse effects. In this paper, we present the results of an experiment where participants (who indicated to prefer either upward comparison or downward comparison) were sequentially shown both directions of social comparison, in order to influence their physical activity levels. The results show that presenting users with the type of social comparison they do not prefer may indeed be counter-effective. Therefore, it is important to take this risk into account when designing physical activity promotion programs with social comparison features.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2016 15th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing and Communications and 2016 8th International Symposium on Cyberspace and Security, IUCC-CSS 2016
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
Pages109-115
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781509055661
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2017
Event15th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing and Communications and 2016 8th International Symposium on Cyberspace and Security, IUCC-CSS 2016 - Granada, Spain
Duration: 14 Dec 201616 Dec 2016

Conference

Conference15th International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing and Communications and 2016 8th International Symposium on Cyberspace and Security, IUCC-CSS 2016
CountrySpain
CityGranada
Period14/12/1616/12/16

Keywords

  • behavior change
  • physical activity
  • smart coaching
  • social comparison

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