Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Craig Bowman

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.


College students are entangled in a competitively driven setting. From athletics, to academics, to finding a job post-graduation, students are constantly comparing themselves to their fellow classmates. As an unfortunate result, students often compare themselves to those who appear relatively superior within a particular domain. This adverse cycle of constant upward social comparisons results in constant depletions of these students’ self-esteem.

Past research has shown the negative effects of upward social comparisons, specifically its impact on decreasing self-esteem. However, few studies have provided a comprehensive analysis of the effects of upward social comparisons on these students in the various academic and social spheres that define the college experience. This is especially true when narrowing the focus to the effect of extrinsic factors on social upward comparisons and its combined influence on self-esteem.

Thus, how are college students throughout the United States being affected by these toxic influences? More importantly, how can colleges address and begin to eradicate some of these negative influences? Through careful analysis of these questions, this thesis provides a comprehensive analysis of the potential hindrances to students’ self-esteem and how these factors can be properly addressed.

Keywords: self-esteem, upward social comparisons, extrinsic factors, college

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.