Festinger's (1954) theory of social comparison states that individuals learn about themselves and subsequently adjust their self-perceptions by comparing their own traits, abilities, and opinions against those of other people. My work (e.g, McIntyre & Eisenstadt, 2010) has sought to examine how social comparison operates as a self-regulatory "measuring stick" by affecting the magnitude of self-discrepancies and the experience of discrepancy related affect.
SELF-THREAT AND COMPENSATORY SELF-ENHANCEMENT
How individuals protect and defend themselves against threatening social comparison information is a second main focus of my research. Contrary to the notion that individuals passively engage in social comparison when they encounter social information, previous studies have documented the various ways in which individuals actively manage social comparisons, especially when the comparison feedback is threatening in nature. I am interested in how individuals engage in self-affirmation following threatening social comparisons via a process of compensatory self-enhancement.
STRESS AND HEALTH
A popular self-help book entitled Don't Sweat the Small Stuff (Carlson, 1997) warns its readers that most of life's stressors are not devastating life changes such as the death of a loved one, but rather relatively minor annoyances that accumulate over the course of time. The psychological literature on stress supports this notion by demonstrating that, in addition to major life events as important causes of stress, relatively small, everyday stressors, called hassles, can have a significant impact on mental health (e.g., DeLongis, Folkman & Lazarus, 1988). All hassles are not created equally, however-some hassles may have a stronger effect on perceived stress than others and my research to date has sought to examine this possibility. Specifically, my colleagues and I have examined the variables that determine when different types of everyday hassles become stressful (McIntyre, Korn, & Matsuo, 2008).
Mattingly, B. A., McIntyre, K. P., & Lewandowski, G. W. (2012). Approach motivation and the expansion of self in close relationships. Personal Relationships, 19, 113-127. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2010.01343.x
Becker, C. B., McDaniel, L., Bull, S., Powell, M., & McIntyre, K. P. (2012). Can we reduce eating disorder risk factors in female college athletes? A randomized exploratory investigation of two peer-led interventions. Body Image, 9, 31-42.
McIntyre, K.P., & Eisenstadt, D. (2011). Social comparison as a self-regulatory measuring stick. Self & Identity, 10, 137-151.
Matsuo, H., McIntyre, K.P., Cheih, W.H., & Karamehic, A. (2010). Ambivalent prejudice toward immigrants: The role of social contact and ethnic origin. Missouri Electronic Journal of Sociology.
McIntyre, K.P., Korn, J.H., & Matsuo, H. (2008). Sweating the small stuff: How different types of hassles result in the experience of stress. Stress & Health, 24, 383-392.
Eisenstadt, D., Hicks, J.L., McIntyre, K.P., Rivers, J.A., & Cahill, M. (2006). Two paths of defense: Specific versus compensatory reactions to self-threat. Self & Identity, 5, 35-50
Nagel, B., Matsuo, H., McIntyre, K.P., & Morrison, N. (2005). Attitudes toward victims of rape: Effects of gender, race, religion, and social class. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 20, 725-737
Matsuo, H., McIntyre, K.P., Tomazic, T., & Katz, B. (2005). The Online Survey: Its Contributions and Potential Problems. Proceedings of the Joint Statistical Meetings of the American Statistical Association.