The Self and the Success of Friends

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Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Pam Bacon, Psychology


According to social psychologists, people feel threatened by a friend's success. The results of this study suggest that a person's reaction to the success of a friend depends on how self-defining the relationship is. In Experiment 1, 47 undergraduates wrote about a personal success or a friend's success. Results revealed that in the friend condition, there was a positive association between relational self-construal scores and positive mood. In a second sample of 54 high school students there was a negative correlation between relational self-construal scores and the amount the participant denigrated the successful friend. These results suggest that whether or not a person feels threatened by the success of a friend may depend upon the organization of the self-concept.