Scarcity refers to a state in which an individual’s resources do not
satisfy his/her needs. A sense of scarcity evokes negative emotions. A
fundamental strategy for coping with this negative threat is for people
to emphasize the desirability of their personal traits. In this study,
two behavioral experiments were conducted to examine whether and how a
sense of scarcity affects one’s self-evaluation. Participants were
assigned randomly to the high or low scarcity group. Financial status
(experiment 1) and the amount of assistance rendered to an individual
during a riddle guessing task (experiment 2) were manipulated to induce
a high or low sense of scarcity. Then, the participants were asked to
make trait judgments of themselves compared with their average peers.
The results showed that people with a high sense of scarcity judged
their personality to be more desirable than those with low sense of
scarcity. The results of this study suggest that a sense of scarcity
enhances an individual’s above-average effect in social comparison.