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As she evaluates her skills and progress, she will compare her performance to other students in the class.
She might initially compare her abilities to the other members of the clarinet section, particularly noting those who are better than her as well as those who are worse.
For example, if you want to assess your skill as a basketball player, you might start by playing a game with your friends or practice shooting free throws.
Once you have a good understanding of what you are capable of, you might then begin comparing your performance to other people that you know.
The “half your age plus seven” rule of thumb probably helps you avoid being a creep, but is it accurate?
Much to my surprise, when overlaying a line representing the rule of thumb on Kenrick and Keefe’s results (see red line in the figure below), you can see it closely matches the low end of the range (i.e., youngest preferred) for all but the oldest men.
You might immediately think of a friend who plays on his school's basketball team. In comparison to him, your performance is not nearly as skilled, but you might feel that you can eventually achieve similar skill with a little practice.
Some comparisons might make you feel inadequate and less likely to pursue a goal while others give you confidence and help boost your self-esteem.
We all compare ourselves to others in our social worlds, whether it is comparing our looks to those of celebrities we see in the media or our talents to those of our co-workers.