Temporal comparison theory

Stuart Albert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

446 Scopus citations


Proposes a theory of temporal and historical comparison, developed from L. Festinger's (see record 1955-02305-001) theory of social comparison by means of a metatheoretical device, conceptual translation, a semantic algorithm that consists of an informal dictionary and a set of rewriting rules. For example, a proposition in social comparison theory about the comparison of 2 different individuals is rewritten in temporal comparison theory as a proposition about the same individual comparing himself at 2 different points in time. A small set of rewriting rules is utilized such that every proposition within social comparison theory can be shown to yield a new proposition of temporal or historical comparison. A subset of these propositions resembles propositions within dissonance theory. That a temporal translation of social comparison theory is possible suggests that the temporal dimension of human experience (which has been omitted from Festinger's theory) may nonetheless be organized by the same principles. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-503
Number of pages19
JournalPsychological Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1977


  • conceptual translation of L. Festinger's social comparison theory, development of temporal & historical comparison theory


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