The relation of social comparison to subjective well-being and health status in older adults

Michael D. Peck, Joseph R. Merighi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: Studies of subjective well-being and health status have given limited attention to the role of social comparisons. Based on theories of social cognition and cognitive appraisal, this paper examines the mediating role of social comparisons and subjective well-being in health status across time. Design and Methods: Data from 2,558 Medicare enrollees is used to test the hypothesized model; this is a secondary analysis of data. Structural equation modeling, with EQS, is used for analyses. Results: Social comparison has a significant influence on subjective well-being. With 2-year follow-up data, the model predicted almost 20% of the variance in physical and mental health outcomes. The influence of current physical health status on physical and mental health outcomes differs for men and women. Implications: Study findings suggest that social comparison is a key factor in enhancing subjective well-being, which influences longevity and reduces depressive symptoms in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-142
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Mental health
  • Older adults
  • Physical health
  • Social comparison
  • Subjective well-being


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