Upward and downward comparisons across monetary and status domains

Zachary A. Yaple, Rongjun Yu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The ability to accurately infer one's place with respect to others is crucial for social interactions. Individuals tend to evaluate their own actions and outcomes by comparing themselves to others in either an upward or downward direction. We performed two fMRI meta-analyses on monetary (n = 39; 1,231 participants) and status (n = 23; 572 participants) social comparisons to examine how domain and the direction of comparison can modulate neural correlates of social hierarchy. Overall, both status and monetary downward comparisons activated regions associated with reward processing (striatum) while upward comparisons yielded loss-related activity. These findings provide partial support for the common currency hypothesis in that downward and upward comparisons from both monetary and status domains resemble gains and losses, respectively. Furthermore, status upward and monetary downward comparisons revealed concordant orbitofrontal cortical activity, an area associated with evaluating the value of goals and decisions implicated in both lesion and empirical fMRI studies investigating social hierarchy. These findings may offer new insight into how people relate to individuals with higher social status and how these social comparisons deviate across monetary and social status domains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4662-4675
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number16
Early online date23 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

User-Defined Keywords

  • reward
  • social comparison
  • social status


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