It Matters to Whom You Compare Yourself: The Case of Unrealistic Optimism and Gender-Specific Comparisons

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Wojciech Kulesza
  • Dariusz Dolinski
  • Caterina Suitner
  • Oliver Genschow
  • Paweł Muniak
  • Kamil Izydorczak
  • Bruno Gabriel Salvador Casara

Unrealistic Optimism (UO) appears when comparing participants’ risk estimates for themselves with an average peer, which typically results in lower risk estimates for the self. This article reports nuanced effects when comparison varies in terms of the gender of the peer. In three studies (total N = 2,468, representative sample), we assessed people’s risk estimates for COVID-19 infections for peers with the same or other gender. If a peer’s gender is not taken into account, previous studies were replicated: Compared with others, participants perceived themselves as less likely to get infected with COVID-19. Interestingly, this effect was qualified by gender: Respondents perceived women as less threatened than men because women are perceived as more cautious and compliant with medical guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Men's Health
Issue number1
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 02.2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA) within the Urgency Grants granted to Wojciech Kulesza (number: PPN/GIN/2020/1/00063/U/00001).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.

    Research areas

  • gender, social comparisons, Unrealistic Optimism bias
  • Psychology