Bram P. Buunk's research while affiliated with University of Groningen and other places

Publications (178)

Article
A longitudinal study was conducted among 93 nurses to determine the role of comparing oneÕs performance with that of oneÕs colleagues in the increase versus decrease of perceived relative deprivation at work over a period of one year. Relative deprivation at T2 had in-creased particularly among those high in social comparison orientation (Gibbons &...
Article
Social comparison—how we use others to make sense of ourselves and the world—is a focal human concern. Indeed, scholars have long recognized the importance of social comparison for human adaptation and survival. As Suls and Wheeler (Chapter 1, this volume) note, theorizing and research on social comparison can be traced to some of the classical con...
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Based on an evolutionary analysis of reciprocal altruism, it is argued that humans have developed innate mechanisms to expect reciprocity in interpersonal relationships and that a lack of reciprocity is accompanied by negative affect. The authors present an overview of their own research programme documenting the importance of reciprocity in a wide...
Article
A prospective study of 94 Dutch adults who have casual sexual partners examined whether two important aspects of safe sex, namely bringing up condom use (BCU) and actual condom use (ACU) are intentional or habitual. For each of these aspects, a model based on the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB: Ajzen, 1991) was pitted against a similar model that...
Chapter
Uncertainty, Distress, and Social ComparisonThe Affective and Evaluative Consequences of Social ComparisonThe Illusion of SuperiorityCognitive Downward Comparisons as a Way of Reducing Relationship DistressConclusion
Article
Little is known about the motivation of ex-smokers to stay abstinent. In the present study we argue that ex-smokers compare their present to their past when they still smoked to conclude whether they make good progress towards a satisfactory state of continued abstinence. These temporal comparisons are thought to be central in the motivation to sta...
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This study relates thoughts derived from 4 types of social comparison to trust and individual learning. Our study (N = 362 students) showed that upward identification (i.e., believing one is just as good as a better performing teammate) was positively related to trust and individual learning. Upward contrast (i.e., believing one is worse than a bet...
Article
Assuming that general intelligence (g) is an honest signal of fitness, we expected g to be related to developmental quality as indexed by Fluctuating Asymmetry (i.e. non-pathological variation in the size of right and left body features). In a population sample of 44 men and 37 women, we assessed the relationship between Fluctuating Asymmetry (FA)...
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People typically attribute lower health risks to themselves than to others, a phenomenon referred to as unrealistic optimism. The present study tested the person positivity bias as a previously unexamined explanation of the phenomenon and analyzed the relationship between unrealistic optimism and expectations of control. High-school students estima...
Article
A study was conducted among 295 nurses to examine the interest in social comparison information, that is, the desire to learn more about the feelings and responses of others facing a similar situation. Occupational burnout, in particular emotional exhaustion, reduced personal accomplishment and uncertainty, had independent relationships with the in...
Article
In this study a social comparison model is constructed that predicts objectively recorded absence frequency among male Dutch blue-collar workers from a metal factory in the Netherlands. By employing LISREL, the model is developed (tested and revised) in Plant North (N = 254), and successfully cross-validated in Plant South (N= 199). The study demon...
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Utilizing a 2 × 2 design, the present study examined the effect of a female's physical attractiveness and dominance on men's sexual motivation and sexually transmitted disease (STD) risk perceptions in a sample of 72 heterosexual male college students. As predicted. participants were more motivated to have sex with more physically attractive women....
Article
Objective: Self-management ability (SMA) is the ability to obtain those resources necessary for the production of well-being. With age, SMA becomes increasingly important, if one has a large variety of resources, physical and psychosocial losses due to the aging process can be substituted or compensated for. This study examined whether an increase...
Article
This research dealt with the effects of inequity in close relationships upon dissatisfaction, and with the moderating role of communal orientation - an individual difference variable reflecting a sensitivity to the needs of others, and a desire that others respond to one's own needs. Study 1 employed a correlational design with a global equity meas...
Chapter
There are probably few situations in which giving in to temptation may have such an impact on one’s personal life as when one engages in a sexual relationship with a person other than one’s spouse. Nevertheless, such temptation may occur at least once for most married individuals, especially when passion has left one’s marriage. When the marital re...
Book
The topic of prosocial behavior (e.g. fairness, solidarity, and altruism) has recently shifted back into the center of attention in a variety of disciplines, ranging from economics across sociology and psychology towards biology. It is now a well-accepted fact in all human sciences that human behavior is not always governed by egotism and selfish m...
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This paper presents the results of two studies carried out in order to design and test a self-report instrument to measure Self-Management Ability (the SMAS-30) in aging individuals. SMA refers to the core behavioral and cognitive abilities which presumably contribute to sustainable well-being in later life. Robust findings of the studies (n = 275...
Article
Androgens influence individual differences in a predictable way: they “masculinise” people. The ratio of index finger length to ring finger length (2D:4D) is an index of prenatal androgen exposure. We related 2D:4D to Verbal Intelligence, Numerical Intelligence and the Big Five personality dimensions in a Dutch sample of 44 men and 37 women. We fou...
Article
The present study examined the relationship between attachment styles and majority members’ attitudes towards adaptation strategies of immigrants. A second purpose was to determine the construct validity and the stability of the Attachment Styles Questionnaire. A group of 177 first-year psychology students (Study 1), and a more representative group...
Article
In a study among 609 secondary school students, the affective reactions to social comparisons of grades were examined. Overall, the students reported more frequent responses to upward than to downward comparison, more identification than contrast in their comparisons, and more frequent responses implying a self-focus than an other-focus. The most f...
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The authors examined esteem enhancement theory and equity theory in explaining the long-term health status of men (n = 178) and women (n = 575). Baseline characteristics were measured in 1990-1993, intimate reciprocity in 1993, and recorded sickness absences for a 9-year period during 1993-2001. Among women, giving more support than receiving in in...
Article
Employing data from a sample of 610 Dutch high school students and their parents, this article argues in favour of an evolutionary explanation for the fact that women are more fearful of crime than men while they are less often victimized. With respect to a variety of events that involved physical injury, varying from robbery to being involved in a...
Article
This study examined the role of waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and shoulder-to-hip ratio (SHR) of the rival in evoking jealousy in an adult sample of 70 men and 69 women. Women paid more attention to the rivals’ waist, hips, and hair, and men paid more attention to the rivals’ shoulders. Potential rivals with a low as opposed to a high waist-to-hip ratio...
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Social comparison is increasingly recognized as an important cognitive process in adaptation to old age. By comparing themselves with age peers who are doing worse, i.e., downward comparison, older persons can make an adjusted assessment that allows them to reinterpret their present lives in a positive manner. “Even though I can no longer do my own...
Article
This study examined to what extent couples facing cancer (N= 55) and healthy couples (N= 74) perceived various distributions of give-and-take to be just or fair when occurring within a relationship of a cancer patient and his or her partner. Participants read one of three versions of a bogus interview with a couple facing cancer. In these scenarios...
Article
Among heterosexual women in particular, a rival's physical attractiveness evokes jealousy, whereas among heterosexual men in particular, a rival's dominance evokes feelings of jealousy. The present study conducted with gay men and lesbian women examined whether these sex-differentiated responses reflect an evolved sex-specific rival-oriented mechan...
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This study examined the frequency of social comparisons in a work setting, and the feelings that these comparisons evoked. These processes were related to individual differences in social comparison orientation, and to the perception of a cooperative social climate at work. The participants were 216 physicians from various health centers in the Com...
Article
A study among 653 undergraduate students examined the effects upon group satisfaction of social comparison orientation (Gibbons & Buunk, 1999) and affiliation orientation, i.e. the preference for doing things together and in groups versus a preference for doing things alone. Affiliation orientation correlated positively with extraversion and agreea...
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Social comparison research has demonstrated that upward comparisons can enhance academic performance (Blanton, Buunk, Gibbons, & Kuyper, 1999; Huguet, Dumas, Monteil, & Genestoux, 2001). Conversely, educational research on the big-fish-little-pond effect (BFLPE) has implied that upward comparisons result in lowered self-evaluations of academic abil...
Chapter
The Short History of An Ancient PhenomenonDefinitions of BurnoutOld Wine in New Bottles?Measurement and Prevalence of BurnoutCorrelates, Causes, Symptoms and Consequences of BurnoutTheoretical ApproachesInterventionsFinal RemarksReferences
Article
Previous research has shown that in men jealousy is evoked more by a rival's status-related characteristics than in women, whereas in women jealousy is evoked more by a rival's physical attractiveness than in men. The present study examined whether the occurrence of this gender difference depends upon the type of infidelity one's partner engages in...
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We examined the interpretation of upward and downward social comparison and its effect on life satisfaction in a questionnaire study among 444 community-dwelling elderly persons with different levels of frailty. As we expected, elderly persons with higher levels of frailty were less inclined to contrast and more inclined to identify themselves with...
Article
Prospective research on psychosocial effects on employees' health associated with organizational mergers has been scarce. The first aim of this study was to explore the subjective health effects (exhaustion and functional incapacity) of an organizational merger among employees who had experienced a change in their own job position differently (impr...
Article
When one member of a couple develops a serious illness, the lives of both partners are likely to be affected. Interventions directed at both partners are generally lacking, however. In the present study, a brief counseling program directed at couples confronted with cancer was evaluated. The intervention focused mainly on the exchange of social sup...
Article
Many studies have reported that cancer patients who show difficulties maintaining perceptions of control report more psychological distress than patients who are higher in control. Besides perceptions of control, feelings of illness uncertainty have also been regarded as a predictor of psychological distress. Given these strong relationships betwee...
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In this study, the authors examined the effects of social comparison on the life satisfaction of 455 community-dwelling older persons. These older persons were confronted with a fictitious interview with either an upward or a downward target. After downward comparison, older persons felt more satisfied with their lives than after upward comparison,...
Article
This study in a sample of 135 women from rural areas examined the effects of social comparison with the marriage of another woman upon mood, identification and relationship evaluation. The comparison target constituted either an upward or a downward comparison, characterized by either high or low effort. Upward targets evoked a more positive mood,...
Article
Taylor's theory of cognitive adaptation proposes that adjustment depends on the ability to sustain and modify illusions (i.e. unrealistic optimism, exaggerated perceptions of control, and self-aggrandizement) that buffer against threats but also against possible future setbacks. Because the question of whether cancer patients show these illusions h...
Article
The present study focused on the effects of social comparison information on subjective understanding of radiation therapy, validation of emotions, and self-efficacy of cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. The effects of three different audiotapes, containing different kinds of social comparison information, were examined. On the procedura...
Article
OBJECTIVES: This study examined a possible explanation for the frequently reported finding that female caregivers perceive more psychological distress than do male caregivers. Our 'identity-relevant stress' hypothesis asserts that feelings of incompetence with respect to caregiving are more strongly associated with psychological distress in women t...
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This prospective study examined the relation between 308 adolescents' images of typical dinkers and nondrinkers and their subsequent alcohol consumption. The results indicate that both images are associated with changes in consumption between ages 16 and 18 but that they operate in different ways. Contrary to previous assumptions, drinker images do...
Article
Four studies examined sex differences in the jealousy-evoking nature of rival characteristics. Study 1, among 130 undergraduates, made an inventory of all relevant rival characteristics that were spontaneously mentioned when asked about a rival to whom one's partner might feel attracted. On the basis of these findings, in Study 2, among 240 undergr...
Article
This prospective study examined the relation between 308 adolescents' images of typical drinkers and nondrinkers and their subsequent alcohol consumption. The results indicate that both images are associated with changes in consumption between ages 16 and 18 but that they operate in different ways. Contrary to previous assumptions, drinker images d...
Article
The present study investigated mate preferences for five different levels of relationship involvement—marriage, serious relationship, falling in love, casual sex, and sexual fantasies–among individuals of 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 years of age. Consistent with an evolutionary perspective, men preferred mates who were higher in physical attractiveness...
Article
Social comparison refers to drawing conclusions about one’s own actual or potential characteristics on the basis of the characteristics of actual or imagined other individuals. For example, healthy individuals may think that their risk of getting cancer is low, because their life style is healthier than that of similar others; hospital patients fac...
Article
The present study focuses on social comparison processes among cancer patients. The sample consisted of 60 (ex-) cancer patients who participated in a course "coping with cancer". This study examined several aspects of social comparison: the need for comparison, the preferred direction of comparison and the influence of mode (information or contact...
Article
The relationships of thoughts derived from social comparison with group processes and outcomes were examined. Our study among 111 educational groups showed that contrasting thoughts, such as believing to be better than a worse-performing teammate or believing to be worse than a better-performing teammate, are negatively related to trust at the indi...
Article
The central aim of the present study was to examine if equity theory still applies to intimate relationships when couples are confronted with a serious illness. Equity concerns were examined among 68 cancer patients and their partners. Contrary to our expectations, only male patients on average felt overbenefited in their relationship, whereas fema...
Article
A group of 267 college students participated in an experiment to determine the effect of communicating different percentages (i.e., 12%, 36%, 64%, 88%) of the prevalence of safer sex in the student population on condom-use intention. A positive linear effect of prevalence information on condom-use intention was demonstrated, although the informatio...
Article
This study examined evaluations of a proposal to equalize the budget for special education across regions among 1,114 participants affiliated with either mainstream or special education in The Netherlands. In line with predictions, it was found that equalization was more positively evaluated as expected outcomes for the own region were more favorab...
Article
In the present study, caregiver burnout among the intimate partners of 106 cancer patients and 88 patients with multiple sclerosis was assessed. This study examined how burnout is related to marital quality and perceptions of inequity in the relationship. LISREL analyses showed that higher perceptions of inequity are strongly associated with higher...
Article
In a study among 141 Dutch undergraduate students, the participants perceived their relationship on average as better than the relationships of most others, and assumed that a majority was happy and that only a minority was unhappy with their relationship. The higher the relationship satisfaction, the more one considered one's relationship as super...
Article
Cette étude a examiné si l’effet d’interaction fréquemment observé du caractère favorable d’un résultat et du degré de justice d’une procédure sur la perception et les réactions face à des décisions pouvait être la conséquence du besoin des personnes de croire en un monde juste. Des étudiants en administration (n= 121) ont participéà une simulation...
Chapter
Als Mensch braucht fast jeder von uns in bestimmten Zeiten und aus bestimmten Gründen andere Personen und wendet sich an sie. Wir sind soziale Wesen und die Gegenwart anderer kann von entscheidender Bedeutung sein, wenn sie uns soziale Unterstützung gewähren, vor allem wenn wir in Notlagen z.B. mit Stress und Krankheit konfrontiert sind. Das vorlie...
Chapter
Attempted to assess how comparison affects long-term academic performance (AP), and to determine if optimism moderates the relationship between comparison and performance. Two aspects of social comparison, amount (Study 1) and target (Study 2), were examined. For Study 1, 190 male and 192 female 8th and 10th graders ( 12-16 yrs at T1) completed rel...
Article
The present study focused on social comparison processes among volunteer caregivers of terminally ill patients in relation to burnout. First, caregivers' (N = 80) affective reactions to a bogus interview with fellow volunteer workers who were either coping better or worse were considered. Upward comparison evoked more positive and less negative fee...
Article
A group of 39 respondents high at risk for HIV and a group of 39 respondents low at risk for HIV were selected from a larger sample to examine their rationalizations and attributions for having unprotected sex. Respondents high at risk for HIV used more often rationalizations and attributions to justify and excuse their risky behavior. At the same...
Article
In a study among 72 nurses, the affective consequences of social comparison were examined and related to neuroticism (N) and to social comparison orientation (SCO). Participants were confronted with a bogus interview with an upward versus a downward comparison target. Positive affect and identification were higher, and negative affect was lower, in...
Article
Three experiments examined whether downward social comparison may enhance satisfaction in close relationships. In a thought-generating task participants were asked to generate features of their relationship in which they considered their relationship as better than that of most others (downward comparison condition) versus features that they consid...
Article
In a study among 72 nurses, the affective consequences of social comparison were examined and related to neuroticism (N) and to social comparison orientation (SCO). Participants were confronted with a bogus interview with an upward versus a downward comparison target. Positive affect and identification were higher, and negative affect was lower, in...
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This study examined differences between teachers high and low in burnout in the perception of being superior to others. Because burnout implies a decline in well-being and because well-being is related to perceived superiority, it was hypothesized that perceived superiority would be reduced among individuals high in burnout. This would be particula...
Article
A total of 122 individuals, including those clinically depressed and nondepressed, were exposed to a description of a target who overcame his or her depression either through active coping (high effort), or seemingly by itself (low effort). Participants first completed the Beck Depression Inventory and the Iowa–Netherlands Comparison Orientation Me...
Article
This study among 185 college students showed that potential rivals with a relatively low waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) evoked more jealousy in women than in men. In contrast, rivals with a relatively high shoulder-to-hip ratio (SHR) evoked more jealousy in men than in women, particularly when the rival also had a high WHR. Rivals with a low as opposed t...
Article
This article notices that social comparison theory has developed from being a focused theoretical statement on the use of others for self-evaluation into a lively and varied area of research encompassing many different paradigms, approaches and applications. A recent ‘renaissance’ in social comparison theory is described in which links were establi...
Article
Guided by equity theory, the present study examined the balance of give-and-take in couples facing cancer. Healthy couples were included as a control group. Patients with cancer felt, as expected, more overbenefited in their relationship than did healthy people. Contrary to our expectation, their partners did not feel underbenefited; they felt as e...
Article
The present study examined desired minimum and maximum ages for mates across five different levels of relationship involvement (marriage, serious relationship, falling in love, casual sex, and sexual fantasies) comparing individuals of 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 years old. Consistent with previous findings, women preferred partners of their own age, re...
Article
In a study among sociotherapists, the affective consequences of social comparison were examined and related to professional burnout and to individual differences in social comparison orientation. Participants were confronted with a bogus interview with an upward versus a downward comparison target. Upward comparison generated more positive and less...
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The affective consequences of social comparison were examined in 2 field studies among nurses and related to the 3 dimensions of professional burnout: emotional exhaustion, reduced personal accomplishment, and depersonalization. Study t was conducted in a sample of 99 nurses of a psychiatric hospital, and Study 2 in a sample of 237 nurses employed...
Article
There has been considerable debate about the difference between burnout and depression. To shed more light on this issue, we explored whether depressive symptomatology and the components of burnout are differentially related to feelings of superiority. Based on the clinical picture of depression, which seems to reflect a general sense of defeat, it...
Article
When individuals are asked which event would upset them more—a partner's emotional infidelity or a partner's sexual infidelity—among heterosexuals more men than women select a partner's sexual infidelity as the most distressing event, whereas more women than men select a partner's emotional infidelity as the most upsetting event. Because homosexual...
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In this article, causal relations among three dimensions of burnout, as measured by the Maslach Burnout Inventory, were examined. Three causal models were examined using data from five earlier published longitudinal studies. Models were fitted using structural equation modelling (SEM) with multi-group analysis. In the best fitting model, personal a...
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In a composite sample of human service professionals (N = 245), longitudinal relations across 1 year were tested between equity in the professional-recipient relationship and burnout (i.e., emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment). The 1st research question was whether inequity influenced burnout across time. Th...
Article
Based on the negativity bias in person perception, we argue that behavioral decisions related to condom use are influenced by the social images that an individual has of people who do not use condoms, but that they are not influenced by the social images that an individual has of people who do use condoms. Three studies with college student samples...
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In the present study, symptoms of nonclinical depression among 106 cancer patients and their intimate partners were assessed. From the perspective of equity theory, it was examined how depression was related to neuroticism marital quality, and perceptions of inequity in the relationship. LISREL analyses showed that neuroticism and perceptions of in...
Article
The present research examined gender differences in the perceived prevalence of extradyadic sex (Study 1, n = 184) and of unsafe sex (Study 2, n = 170). Two opposing hypotheses were examined: the justification hypothesis, predicting that the higher the involvement in extradyadic and unsafe sex, the higher the perceived prevalence of such behaviors...
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This research tested the evolutionary psychological hypothesis that men and women would be most distressed about threats from rivals who surpass them on sex-linked components of mate value. Six predictions were tested in samples from three cultures, the United States (N= 208), the Netherlands (N= 349), and Korea (N= 174). Five predictions were supp...
Article
This study evaluated the 1994, 1995 and 1996 Dutch safer sex campaigns as to their effectiveness in terms of improved attitudes, perceived social norms, self-efficacy and intentions regarding safer sex. The hypotheses were tested that variables become more positive when campaigns are conducted and less positive when campaigns are discontinued. A co...
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This cross-sectional study assessed 3 ways of providing spousal support. Active engagement means involving the patient in discussions and using constructive problem-solving methods; protective buffering means hiding one's concerns; and overprotection refers to underestimation of the patient's capabilities, resulting in unnecessary help and excessiv...
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In the present study, possible determinants and effects of three different styles of giving support by healthy partners of patients with cancer were examined. Both partners' and patients' perceptions regarding these ways of providing support by healthy partners were studied. A survey was conducted among 106 patients with cancer and their intimate p...
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Previous research has demonstrated that poor academic performance is associated with a downward shift in preferred level of academic comparison level (ACL). The current study assessed the long-term impact of this downward shift on the academic performance of college students and also examined the extent to which optimism moderated the relation betw...
Article
The goal of the present study was to further knowledge on gender and role (i.e. patient versus partner) differences in psychological distress and quality of life as a consequence of dealing with cancer. There is some evidence that being the patient or the caregiver makes more difference for men than for women. In total, 173 couples facing various f...