"Indeed, humans are remarkably attuned to relative position and status. As the economists David Hemenway and Sara Solnick demonstrated in a study at Harvard, many people would prefer to receive an annual salary of $50,000 when others are making $25,000 than to earn $100,000 a year when others are making $200,000. Similarly, Daniel Zizzo and Andrew Oswald, economists in Britain, conducted a study that showed that people would give up money if doing so would cause someone else to give up a slightly larger sum. That is, we will make ourselves poorer in order to make someone else poorer, too. Findings like these reveal an all-too-human truth. We care more about social comparison, status and rank than about the absolute value of our bank accounts or reputations."
Sonja Lyubomirsky. "Why We're Still Happy," The New York Times. !2/27/2008, A19.