Do we find it easier to admire and respect people in positions or places we could only ever aspire to, than we do those who are closer to being our equals?

This is a personal theory, by the way, so it’s not backed by research or deep psychological understanding. In fact, its rather shallow, developed through observation of myself and my feelings. Just so you know.

But see what you think. Who are your heroes? Who do you most admire? Are they people who are safely dead? Lofty icons of social standing? Prodigiously talented and in a class of their own? Or forced by circumstance to over-achieve?

Admiring someone for their achievements is admirable. Yet we are more likely to express it with those who are not too similar to ourselves. With those closest to us we are more likely to compare and contrast, and this sometimes produces envy, rather than applause and approval.