Full Text

False Uniqueness

Ronald E. Ostman


A person expresses false uniqueness, an inaccurate social comparison, when that individual perceives that differences between his or her own attitudes, abilities, and behaviors and those of others are larger than they really are ( Suls & Wan 1987 ). This difference is thought especially prevalent when one's own behavior is desirable and the individual estimates the prevalence of others exhibiting, or willing to exhibit, the same or similar behaviors ( Monin & Norton 2003 ) (→  Pluralistic Ignorance ; Pluralistic Ignorance and Ideological Biases ). The result is an underestimate of how common one's desirable attributes and successful behaviors are in relation to those of others and one essentially casts oneself in the role of “better than thou.” Historical treatises stimulating investigation of false uniqueness can be found in Festinger (1954) (→  Festinger, Leon ), Schachter (1959) , and Fields and Schuman (1976–1977) . Their various approaches to explaining the human mind focused on the social comparisons that an individual makes between self and others. According to Fields & Schuman, a particular problem humans face during this process is that direct information on others’ views may be absent, unavailable, equivocal, or for some reason not sufficiently compelling. Nonetheless, humans do not let informational deficiencies prevent them from estimating what others ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top