Tainted recommendations: The social comparison bias

Stephen M. Garcia, Hyunjin Song, Abraham Tesser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The present analysis reveals the social comparison bias - a bias that emerges from the social comparison process and taints recommendations. We hypothesize that people who have high standing on a relevant dimension (e.g., quantity of publications) begin to protect their social comparison context by making recommendations that prevent others, who might surpass them on the relevant dimension, from entering their comparison context. Studies 1 and 2 instantiate this effect in both hypothetical and real decision situations, showing that people tend not to recommend individuals who surpass them on the relevant dimension on which they have high standing. Finally, Study 3, in a sample of real employees, links the effect to one's concern for protecting self-esteem. Theoretical and organizational implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-101
Number of pages5
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Choice behavior
  • Decision making
  • Social comparison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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