Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Jonathan S. Gore

Department Affiliation


Second Advisor

Theresa Botts

Department Affiliation


Third Advisor

Richard Osbaldiston

Department Affiliation



The current study intended to investigate the effects of increased similarity to upward, lateral, and downward comparison targets on changes to participants’ psychological well-being and self-aspect valence. Based on previous literature, hypotheses were proposed in regard to the effect of increased similarity to each direction of comparison. A sample of students in introductory psychology classes from Eastern Kentucky University were employed to test these hypotheses. All of the participants completed measures that captured their self-aspect valence and centrality, perception of comparison targets, and psychological well-being. The results of this study confirmed some of the hypotheses. The results showed that for upward comparisons, increased similarity to the upward target was associated with increased psychological well-being and self-aspect valence at Time 2. The effects for self-aspect valence were moderated by increased closeness and positive valence of upward target. For lateral comparisons, increased similarity to the lateral target was not associated with changes in self-aspect valence or psychological well-being at Time 2. For downward comparisons, increased similarity to the downward target was associated with a marginal decrease in self-aspect valence at Time 2. These findings provided evidence that an individual becoming more similar to people perceived to be better than they are can improve their psychological well-being and the way they feel about themselves.