The present study examined how the effects of three audiotapes containing different types of social comparison information on the mood of cancer patients depended on the level of neuroticism. On the procedural tape, a man and woman discussed the process of radiation therapy, on the emotion tape, they focussed on emotional reactions to their illness and treatment, while on the coping tape they focussed on the way they had been coping. A validation study among 115 students showed that the tapes were perceived as they were intended. The main study was conducted among 226 patients who were about to undergo radiation therapy. Compared to patients in the control group, as patients were higher in neuroticism, they reported less negative mood after listening to the procedural and the coping tape. Furthermore, as patients were higher in neuroticism, they reported less negative mood after listening to the coping tape than to the emotion tape. © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.