Peer comparison is not just something that nervous super fund trustees and investment managers do.
It’s everywhere in modern culture. It is present in sport, where ‘competitiveness’ is regarded as a virtue. Faster, higher, stringer, as the Olympic motto has it. It also appears everywhere in corporate life, as management consultants exhort their clients to embrace ‘best practise’ and engage in ever more ambitious corporate benchmarking initiatives.
Peer comparison even appears in our social lives. Here it plays a somewhat more pernicious role, charged with promoting anti-social materialism, teenage eating disorders and reality television.