What makes you think you're so popular? Self-evaluation maintenance and the subjective side of the "friendship paradox"

Ezra W. Zuckerman, John T. Jost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We report on a survey of undergraduates at the University of Chicago in which respondents were asked to assess their popularity relative to others. Popularity estimates were related to actual popularity, but we also found strong evidence of self-enhancement in self-other comparisons of popularity. In particular, self-enhancement was stronger for self versus friend comparisons than for self versus "typical other" comparisons; this is contrary to the reality demonstrated in Feld's "friendship paradox" and suggests that people are more threatened by the success of friends than of strangers. At the same time, people with relatively popular friends tended to make more self-serving estimates of their own popularity than did people with less popular friends. These results clarify how objective patterns of interpersonal contact work together with cognitive and motivational tendencies to shape perceptions of one's location in the social world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-223
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Psychology Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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