Are social comparisons of homes and cars related to psychosocial health?

A Ellaway, L McKay, S MacIntyre, A Kearns, Rosemary Hiscock

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32 Citations (SciVal)


Background: It has been suggested that perceiving oneself to be inferior to those around one is a psychosocial risk factor associated with ill health. The aim of this study was to examine whether negative social comparisons of the worth of two common assets (homes and cars) were related to psychosocial health (i.e. lower self-esteem and mastery, higher anxiety, and depression). Methods: A postal questionnaire was sent to a random sample of adults in the West of Scotland (sampling from the 1997 electoral roll, response rate was 50%, achieved sample 2838). Results: Having adjusted for socio-demographic variables, rating one's house/flat as worth less than others was associated with lower self-esteem (P < 0.001) and mastery (P < 0.001) and higher depression (P < 0.007) and anxiety (P < 0.012). Rating one's car as worth less than others was not significantly associated with these psychosocial variables. Conclusions: Our findings lend some support, but only in relation to the home, to the hypothesis that perceiving oneself to be worse off in relation to those around is related to poorer psychosocial health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1065-1071
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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