Tainted recommendations: The social comparison bias
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.