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The sense of relative superiority — Central to well-being

The sense of relative superiority — Central to well-being Abstract QOL research appears to show that in nearly all countries which have been studied almost all sections of the community rate their subjective well-being (SWB) above the mid-point of scales. This paper suggests a partial explanation of this puzzling finding. It is that almost all human beings explicitly believe that their own performance in major life roles is well above average. We label this the human sense of relative superiority (SRS). In the 1985 Australian Quality of Life survey (N = 584) respondents rated their performance in seven major roles on a 7 point scale running from “way above average” to “way below average”. The percentages rating themselves above average ranged from 85.9% for main job to 49.8% for main spare time activity. Percentages rating below average ranged from 1% for main job to 11.5% for keeping fit and healthy. The median respondent rated himself/herself above average in five of seven roles. Differences between men and women, young and old, higher and lower status people, were slight. The later sections of the paper are concerned with the adaptive mechanisms by which large majorities manage to feel SRS. Differential weighting of sub-roles in assessment of overall role performance and use of restricted reference groups are suggested as two such mechanisms. The concluding section discusses the benefits and costs of SRS. Benefits include enhanced self-esteem and SWB. Costs include failure to perceive one’s own poor performance and hence to take corrective action. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Social Indicators Research Springer Journals

The sense of relative superiority — Central to well-being

Social Indicators Research , Volume 20 (5): 20 – Oct 1, 1988

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References (50)

Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
1988 D. Reidel Publishing Company
ISSN
0303-8300
eISSN
1573-0921
DOI
10.1007/BF03359554
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract QOL research appears to show that in nearly all countries which have been studied almost all sections of the community rate their subjective well-being (SWB) above the mid-point of scales. This paper suggests a partial explanation of this puzzling finding. It is that almost all human beings explicitly believe that their own performance in major life roles is well above average. We label this the human sense of relative superiority (SRS). In the 1985 Australian Quality of Life survey (N = 584) respondents rated their performance in seven major roles on a 7 point scale running from “way above average” to “way below average”. The percentages rating themselves above average ranged from 85.9% for main job to 49.8% for main spare time activity. Percentages rating below average ranged from 1% for main job to 11.5% for keeping fit and healthy. The median respondent rated himself/herself above average in five of seven roles. Differences between men and women, young and old, higher and lower status people, were slight. The later sections of the paper are concerned with the adaptive mechanisms by which large majorities manage to feel SRS. Differential weighting of sub-roles in assessment of overall role performance and use of restricted reference groups are suggested as two such mechanisms. The concluding section discusses the benefits and costs of SRS. Benefits include enhanced self-esteem and SWB. Costs include failure to perceive one’s own poor performance and hence to take corrective action.

Journal

Social Indicators ResearchSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 1, 1988

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