Social Comparison: How Does It Affect Us?

Being compared to others can be a source of great frustration and anxiety. This is why it is important to know how to use social comparison

Social Comparison: How Does It Affect Us?
Social Comparison: How Does It Affect Us?

Being compared to others can be a source of great frustration and anxiety. This is why it is important to know how to use social comparison in a positive way.

We constantly compare ourselves to the people around us, the people we see on social media, public figures and even fictional characters. The majority of society believes that social comparison is negative and should be avoided at all costs.

But how would you react if you heard that social comparison is part of everyone's character?

Do we feel the need to compare ourselves to others?

McMaster University School of Medicine first proposed what is known as problem-based learning (PBL) in the 1950s. Since then, it has been evolving and adapting to different levels of education.

Barrows (1986) defines problem-based learning as: "A method of learning based on the principle of using problems as a starting point for the acquisition and integration of new knowledge."

It is a teaching-learning method in which students in small groups analyze, research, reflect and solve a problem with the help of the teacher. This issue is rigorously designed and selected to ensure that students achieve their educational goals.

Therefore, the main goal of this teaching method is that the student learns by analyzing and solving real problems. This is based on self-study and promotes effective learning. In addition, it aims at a positive attitude of students and motivation to learn.

Problem-based learning and its characteristics

As already mentioned, PBL's initial goal was to work with students. Over time, teachers have adapted this method to different educational levels. However, the basic features have not changed.

  • This is an active working method. Students participate in acquiring their knowledge.
  • The exercise revolves around the problem so that learning results from solving the problem and working on it.
  • These issues are designed to help students learn the goals they set.
  • Problem-based learning is designed to help students understand and delve deeper into problem-solving.
  • The learners, not the teachers, are at the heart of learning.
  • The teacher-tutor is the learning coordinator. It offers opportunities and means to build knowledge.
  • The work takes place in small groups of 6 to 8 people.
  • The structure and process of solving problems are always open. This aspect motivates conscious learning and teamwork.

How to organize a problem session?

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The activity of PBL requires careful design and organization:

  • Reading and analyzing the problem scenario. Students must understand the question. This requires reformulating and discussing the problem to make sure there is no doubt. If there is any question that needs clarification, they will discuss it with other groups.
  • Students prepare a list with all the hypotheses for solving the problem. As the problem progresses, they accept or reject these hypotheses.
  • Make a list of what they know. Students then make a list of what each team member knows about the problem. They will draw on prior knowledge that can help them solve the problem.
  • Make a list of what they don't know. Students make another list of what they don't know and think they should know to solve the problem.
  • Make a list of what they need to fix the problem. Here, students propose management strategies. Then they allocate and distribute tasks to the members of the group.
  • Defining the problem. The team clearly explains the problem they need to solve and how they will conduct research to solve it.
  • Obtaining information. Students need to find, collect, organize, and analyze information. They work individually on the assigned task, and then gather all the information gained to work out a solution to the problem together.
  • Presentation of the results. Once the various solutions are available, the team will decide to fix the problem. Then it will create a report of the work done and the solution to the problem. Finally, he will present his results orally to the rest of the class.

What are the advantages of the PBL method?

Problem-based learning (PBL) offers students many benefits. Among them we can distinguish the following:

  • More meaningful learning as students build their own knowledge.
  • Greater motivation and a positive attitude to learning.
  • Development of cognitive skills; critical thinking, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
  • Ability to identify, analyze and solve problems.
  • Efficient selection and management of various sources of information.
  • Due to its multidisciplinary nature, it allows for the integration of knowledge from various disciplines.
  • Promotes collaboration and collaboration; develops a sense of belonging to a group.
  • Promotes effective listening and communication.
  • Ability to argue, debate ideas and make decisions.
  • Students question their own value scale (honesty, responsibility, commitment).


If teaching methods change, the means of assessing learning must also change. For PBL, the following assessment methods can be used:

  • Case study. Students put into practice what they have learned.
  • An exam during which the student organizes the acquired knowledge.
  • Self-esteem. By means of a series of elements such as learning gained, time invested, process they went through, etc.
  • Assessment within the group. Co-workers evaluate each other.

In short, problem-based learning is an active learning method. With this teaching methodology, students learn by solving and analyzing real-world problems. In addition, they develop a number of skills and competences that will serve them in their personal and professional future.