Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Scott Allison

Second Advisor

Jane Berry


The present research explores the affective consequences of social comparisons made by cooperators and competitors. Participants (75 males, 90 females) were randomly assigned to either a cooperative or competitive condition in which they either performed better or worse than a partner. Participants were asked to imagine themselves in a particular situation and then report their emotional reaction to the scenario. Consistent with R. Lazarus' cognitive appraisal theory of emotion, participants in the cooperative condition reported anger when their partner's actions hindered goal attainment but reported joy when the partner promoted goal attainment. Consistent with T. Wills' theory of downward social comparison, participants reported joy when they performed better than a competitor. In accordance with some aspects of L. Festinger's theory of upward social comparison, participants reported anger when they performed worse than a competitor. Implications for reward distribution practices in organizational settings are discussed.

Included in

Psychology Commons