The role of social comparison in students' perceptions of ability: An enriched view of academic motivation in middle school students

Jessica J. Summers, Diane L. Schallert, P. Muse Ritter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


This study addressed notions derived from a model by Tesser, Campbell, and Smith (1984) of self-concept and how it is influenced by social relationships. We were interested in whether the self-evaluation maintenance model (SEM) would allow us to investigate more directly the value component in expectancy-value models of achievement motivation. Using distinctions often made about different motivational orientations, we discovered a three-way interaction between level of mastery orientation (high or low), relevance of math (high or low), and target of rating (self or 7th grade friend) on students' perception of ability in math. Thus, the SEM model was supported but only for students reporting a low mastery orientation. For them, those who reported math as highly relevant estimated their own ability as significantly higher than their friend's, whereas those reporting math as less relevant showed no difference in estimates of ability between self or friend. For high mastery oriented students, no differences were found.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-523
Number of pages14
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this