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Hard to say, in a general sense. In working life there is an element of competition, which makes comparison between peers an integral part of how we progress (or not) in our careers. Whether our comparisons to our peers are fair and accurate is another matter. We can very easily get a distorted picture as we are only seeing parts of another person's nature and abilities.
Why do some people feel the need? Depends on the person. Maybe they feel inadequate, or maybe they feel superior, or maybe they have no idea where they stand and want someone to provide a guide for them. Or maybe none of these. I'm imagining this in a work context; for life experience, it gets even more murky.
I might also be going off on a different tangent from your original question - maybe an example would help? 🙂
I'd say, people take short cuts when they are trying to measure something.
For example, success is a tricky word for everyone.
This is cause everyone will have a different way to measure it or even, to define it. It could be an end state for some while a process for others. It could involve only the person or involve a group interaction, for others.
When people have no one to compare to, they then seem to gravitate to comparing themselves with others. This often results in distress, unfair comparisons, blame, guilt and a whole host of emotions that make the person feel less secure instead of being more secure.
However, when I say that people have no one to compare to, that isn't however truly the case. You always have someone - yourself, at different stages of your own development. That is always your best model to compare yourself to. With some awareness, you then start to use yourself as a measure and voila! you start to feel happier. 😍