Over the past decades, the field of health psychology has witnessed a tremendous growth, and social psychologists have contributed substantially to the theoretical foundation of this field. Their research has focused on a wide variety of health-relevant topics such as how individuals decide to respond to threats to their health and well-being, how and why they change their behavior to avoid such threats, and especially, how they adjust to or cope with the risk of threatening disease and with the diseases themselves. As diverse as this literature may be, however, there does appear to be a common theme throughout much of it--the observation that comparison of oneself and one's health status and coping efforts with others is an integral part of the coping process. Consequently, social comparison theory is increasingly becoming recognized as a fruitful framework for illuminating health related issues. A still expanding literature is exploring the role of social comparisons with respect to coping with a wide range of health problems, including cancer, physical decline among the aged, rheumatoid arthritis, AIDS, stress at work and occupational burnout, and eating disorders.
Social comparison theory has augmented knowledge about the ways in which people cope with stressful events, and thus has contributed significantly to it. At a more basic level, research in this applied context has made significant contributions to the development of social comparison theory itself. The present volume presents an overview of the various ways in which social comparison theory has been applied to issues related to health, coping, and well-being, and also points out how these applications have contributed to our insight into the way humans employ social comparison information. Given the attention paid to theoretical and applied issues, this volume will appeal to a wide audience, including social and health psychologists, as well as therapists, physicians, clinicians, medical sociologists, nurses, and those involved in the growing field of nursing research.
Table of Contents
Contents: B.P. Buunk, F.X. Gibbons, M. Reis-Bergan, Social Comparison in Health and Illness: An Overview. W.M. Klein, N.D. Weinstein, Social Comparison and Unrealistic Optimism About Personal Risk. F.X. Gibbons, M. Gerrard, Health Images and Their Effects on Health Behavior. S.J. Misovich, J.D. Fisher, W.A. Fisher, Social Comparison Processes and AIDS Risk and AIDS Preventive Behavior. L.G. Aspinwall, Future-Oriented Aspects of Social Comparisons: A Framework for Studying Health-Related Comparison Activity. T.A. Wills, Modes and Families of Coping: An Analysis of Social Comparison and Other Cognitive and Behavioral Mechanisms. J. Suls, R. Martin, H. Leventhal, Social Comparison, Lay Referral, and the Decision to Seek Medical Care. J.A. Kulik, H.I.M. Mahler, Social Comparison, Affiliation, and Coping With Acute Medical Threats. H. Tennen, G. Affleck, Social Comparison as a Coping Process: A Critical Review and Application to Chronic Pain Disorders. J.V. Wood, K. VanderZee, Social Comparisons Among Cancer Patients: Under What Conditions Are Comparisons Upward and Downward? E. Diener, F. Fujita, Social Comparisons and Subjective Well-Being. B.P. Buunk, J.F. Ybema, Social Comparisons and Occupational Stress: The Identification-Contrast Model. A.H. Ahrens, L.B. Alloy, Social Comparison Processes in Depression. H. Leventhal, S. Hudson, C. Robitaille, Social Comparison and Health: A Process Model.
"...this is a volume that is well worth reading and is highly recommended to a number of different audiences. The information is presented with a high degree of scholarship and integration, making this an ideal specialized text for senior undergraduate or graduate-level course in health psychology or applied social psychology."
"In general, this book is a valuable contribution to research in the field of health psychology."
—Journal of Health Psychology