Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Thesis




Evoked potentials (Electrophysiology), Feedback (Psychology), Comparison (Psychology), Sensitivity (Personality trait), ERP, Event-related potential, Peer comparison, Social evaluation


The current study explored neural reactivity to social comparison during a flanker task in which young adults (n=23) were provided with on-going feedback. The feedback indicated whether current performance was better, similar to or worse than peers that had previously performed the task. This multi-level feedback rating system allows for a more in depth look at the salience of specific categories of feedback. Specifically, within each feedback condition there were two levels of feedback ratings such that performance could be ranked either a little or much better/worse than peer performance. Neural reactivity to feedback was assessed via the feedback-related negativity (FRN), an event-related potential (ERP) associated with feedback processing. The results confirm that the FRN is viable measure of reactivity to social comparison. Interestingly, the FRN response did not significantly differ between feedback indicating worse or similar performance compared to peers. The current study also reveals that global comparisons of social comparison receive elevated importance in evaluation of social feedback as only minor differences emerged between the within condition variations of performance (i.e. a little/much better/worse). Further research should explore these patterns across various tasks and also investigate the role of individual differences in processing social comparison feedback.




39 p. Honors project-Smith College, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 35-39)