09 SES 02 A, Findings from International Comparative Achievement Studies: Frame-of-Reference and School Composition Effects
Parallel Paper Session
Schoolmates provide a frame of reference for social comparisons on which students (partially) base their academic self-concepts (Huguet et al., 2009). The reference group’s mean competency is negatively related to students’ domain-specific self-concepts holding individual competency constant (e.g., Marsh et al., 2008). Such frame of reference effects (or “big-fish–little-pond effects”) on domain-specific self-concepts are assumed to be associated with values students attach to the respective domain. A low self-concept and a high value attached to the domain are inconsistent and therefore induce psychological discomfort (Festinger, 1957; Thibodeau & Aronson, 1992). Devaluation of the academic domain is a potential means to alleviate the psychological discomfort (Major & Schmader, 1998; Steele, 1997). An inconsistency between domain-specific self-concept and value of the domain is however, only expected to elicit psychological discomfort in individuals from Western cultural contexts; in East Asian cultural contexts a low competency relative to one’s reference group is expected to motivate students to increase effort so that they will blend in better and thus secure social approval (Heine et al., 2001). I propose that in Western but not East Asian cultural contexts, the reference group’s mean competency negatively predicts the value students attach to an academic domain. This effect is assumed to be mediated by the domain-specific self-concept—devaluation of an academic domain is thus assumed to be motivated by negative psychological consequences of maintaining a high value of a domain given a relatively low domain-specific self-concept.
Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Evanston, IL: Row, Peterson. Heine, S. J., Kitayama, S., Lehman, D. R., Takata, T., Ide, E., Leung, C. (2001). Divergent consequences of success and failure in Japan and North America: An investigation of self-improving motivations and malleable selves. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(4), 599-615. Huguet, P., Dumas, F., Marsh, H., Régner, I., Wheeler, L., Suls, J. (2009). Clarifying the role of social comparison in the big-fish–little-pond effect (BFLPE): An integrative study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(1), 156-170. Major, B., & Schmader, T. (1998). Coping with stigma through psychological disengagement. In J. K. Swim & C. Stangor (Eds.), Prejudice: The target's perspective (pp. 219-241). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Marsh, H. W., Seaton, M., Trautwein, U., Lüdtke, O., Hau, K. T., O'Mara, A. J. (2008). The big-fish–little-pond-effect stands up to critical scrutiny: Implications for theory, methodology, and future research. Educational Psychology Review, 20(3), 319-350. OECD. (2009). PISA 2006 technical report. Paris: OECD Publishing. Schafer, J. L. (1997). Analysis of incomplete multivariate data (Vol. 72). Boca Raton, FL: Chapman & Hall/CRC. Steele, C. M. (1997). A threat in the air: How stereotypes shape intellectual identity and performance. American Psychologist, 52(6), 613-629. Thibodeau, R., & Aronson, E. (1992). Taking a closer look: Reasserting the role of the self-concept in dissonance theory. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18(5), 591-602. von Davier, M., Gonzalez, E., & Mislevy, R. J. (2009). What are plausible values and why are they useful? IERI Monograph Series: Issues and methodologies in large-scale assessments (Vol. 2, pp. 9-36). Hamburg, Germany: IEA-ETS Research Institute. Warm, T. A. (1989). Weighted likelihood estimation of ability in item response theory. Psychometrika, 54(3), 427-450.
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