The Contrast Bias

The tendency to mentally upgrade or downgrade an object when comparing it to a contrasting object.

We constantly compare things, people and situations. We deem them bad, good or neutral depending on what we've recently experienced in the same category. We voted for Obama because we compared him to Bush. Contrast effects are common in human thinking.

• A hefted weight is perceived as heavier than normal when "contrasted" with a lighter weight. It is perceived as lighter than normal when contrasted with a heavier weight.
• An animal works harder than normal for a given amount of reward when that amount is contrasted with a lesser amount and works less energetically for that given amount when it is contrasted with a greater amount.
• A person appears more appealing than normal when contrasted with a person of less appeal and less appealing than normal when contrasted with one of greater appeal.

So if you were to compare your car to a clunker and not a Maserati, you'd feel better.