|dc.description.abstract||We examined the relative frequency of social, counter factual, past-temporal, and future-temporal
comparison in daily life using an experience-sampling method, in which participants were
randomly prompted to record thought samples using palmtop computers carried for two weeks.
Comparative thought accounted for 12% of all thoughts, and all four comparison types occurred
with equivalent frequency. Comparisons may be either fact-based (i.e., based on actuality, as in
social and past-temporal comparison) or simulation-based (i.e., based on imagination, as in
counterfactual and future-temporal comparison). Because the latter are more “unbounded,” and
because greater perceived opportunity invites greater self-improvement, we predicted and found
that counterfactual and future-temporal comparison were more likely to be upward (vs.
downward) than social and past-temporal comparison. All comparison types focused on
approach more than avoidance motives, except for counterfactuals, which showed equivalent
focus on both. These findings reveal the prominence of comparative thought in daily life, and
underscore the value an integrative theory that describes social, counter factual, or temporal
comparison using a common theoretical platform.||en_US