Fabricating and Ignoring Social Reality: Self- Serving Estimates of Consensus
Social com parison theory (Festinger, 1954) argues that people evaluate their opinions and abilities by com paring them to the opinions and abilities o f other people. M ost current accounts o f social com parison processes assume that people seek validation as well as objective evaluation when they engage in com parison. This raises the possibility that people will distort social reality in ways that enable them to view their opinions and abilities positively (Goethals & Darley, 1977). Specifically, they may distort com parison information about other peo p le’s opinions in the direction o f seeing more agreement with their opinions than actually exists, and they may distort com parison inform ation about other peo ple’s perform ances in the direction o f seeing other people’s good perform ances as less com mon and their poor perform ances as more common than their own. This chapter considers several studies suggesting that people both fabricate and ignore social reality in ways that serve their desire to validate their opinions and other personal characteristics.