The Mindlessness of Social Comparisons and its Effect on Creativity
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 68-74, May 2010
17 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2010
Date Written: December 7, 2010
Social Comparisons are ubiquitous phenomenon, for some researchers the key to evolutionary survival, for others key to understanding depression. Anybody engaged in artistic endeavors understands the relevance comparisons play throughout the creative process. In this article we examine the downside of social comparisons, the mindlessness of social comparison, specifically for the creative process. When we make social comparisons we tend to (a) be oblivious to the fact that we are making choices, (b) accept at face value that the comparison is meaningful and not transitory, (c) be unaware of its context-dependent nature, and (d) mindlessly accept the criteria on which the evaluation was based. When we open these up to scrutiny, comparisons make less sense. Alternative criteria, alternative aspects of the behavior, and alternative meanings for the performance could lead to very different conclusions. Research conducted in the context of art creation showed reduced negative consequences of social comparing for performance perceptions after a mindfulness treatment. Trait mindfulness as measured by the LMS supported the conclusions. Mindful groups, whether trait or state, evaluated their performance similar to the no social comparison group and both were less affected in their performance evaluations than the mindless group that made social comparisons. These findings can support all those engaged in creative processes to buffer against the negative consequences of social comparisons.
Keywords: Mindfulness, Social Comparison, Artistic Ability, Mindlessness, Performance, Creativity
JEL Classification: M00, Z00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation