Better possible self or better other? Gender affects who is more inspirational

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Youngjee Han
Myungwoo Nam
Cite this article:  Han, Y., & Nam, M. (2017). Better possible self or better other? Gender affects who is more inspirational. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 45(2), 191-204.


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We proposed that women would be more likely to be motivated to become a better person by comparing themselves to a better other whereas men would be more likely to be inspired by comparison to a better possible self. In Study 1, conducted with 150 participants in the United States, the results demonstrated that female participants who were asked to think about another person who was physically fit were more likely to make healthy food choices when grocery shopping than were those who were asked to think about themselves as someone who was physically fit. Conversely, male participants were more likely to choose healthy food options when shopping after they had been asked to think about a better possible self rather than a better other. In Study 2, conducted with 172 participants in South Korea, we replicated the findings from Study 1 in relation to the goal of speaking fluent English. Our findings suggest that when there is a fit between self-construal orientation and type of comparison standard, individuals are more likely to be motivated to pursue their goals.

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