Health, Leisure & Human Performance Research Institute, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation Studies, Department of Psychology, and Centre on Aging, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada. firstname.lastname@example.org
Social comparison can be used strategically to bolster the self-concept. Such use may constitute secondary striving for control, when primary striving through action is unattainable. On the basis of the life span theory of control, the authors hypothesized and found that social comparison judgments would predict physical health outcomes among older adults with low primary control perceptions in the health domain. Only among such respondents, after age, sex, activities of daily living, chronic conditions, and prior hospitalization were adjusted for, did more positive social comparison judgments predict significantly lower odds of hospitalization and death over the next 2--6 years as reported in provincial health records. In later life, optimistic social comparisons may contribute to better health by providing secondary control.