Teoria grup odniesienia porównawczego

Piotr Skeris


In the past three decades a considerable amount of work has been devoted to spot the mechanisms of comparisons elicited by small groups within the individuals perception field. Two branches of theory development have arisen on the basis of widespread research undertakings induced by the ideas of Hyman, Merton, Festinger and others : social comparison theory of a more cognitive character, concerned with the motive to adequately appraise ones opinions or abilities, and the theory of relative deprivation coping with the more motivationally diversified attempt to evaluate ones achievements. In the latter case comparisons may incite social change by way of engendering feelings of dissatisfaction with the existing state..

Social comparison theory, as represented in research conducted by Festinger, concentrates on evaluations of ones own opinions and abilities when objective comparison standards are lacking. A number of regularities in this area are presented, based on the assumption that opinion or achievement discrepancies cause cognitive dissonance. Small differences lead most often to opinion change while considerable divergence brings about cessation of comparison. The process of comparison proceeds on the basis of percieved similarity and (or propinquity between persons. The perceived similarity may be at variance with an objective criteria, as in the case of blind, thus sustaining comparison and the resulting feeling of self-identity. The notion of similarity underlying the appearance of relative deprivation is believed to be born in the relativity of distinction between comparative arid normative functions of reference groups.

Two types of relative deprivation have been depicted according to persons predominant orientation, either individualistic or collective, the latter potentially leading to social change. Also three measures of relative deprivation a have bean mentioned: magnitude, frequency and degree. Greater attention has been paid to the frequency dimension (proportion of the group feeling being deprived) where application of simple models is considered. The degree, or intensity, of relative deprivation is dependent on additional condition, whether the reference group serves the function of anchoring point for individuals comparisons. If, on the contrary, it serves the function of identification group lesser achievements do not call forth feelings of dissatisfaction. Finally some applications of reference group theory for explication of group consciousness formation are being considered. With the help of a probabilistic model it is indicated that group consciousness rises both when objective deprivation correlates with an indicator of inner differentiation and when proportion of objectively deprived approaches the half of the group.

Simple models may serve as a departing point for analyzing more complicated processes of comparison. A number of basic problems, however, remains to be solved, like the search for factors responsible for upward or downward comparisons in the social structure, inward or outward group comparisons, as well as the description of the interrelationship between comparison and motivational processes within the personality system.

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