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The internal/external frame of reference (I/E) model posits paradoxical relations between achievement and self-concept in mathematics and verbal domains. There is strong support for the I/E model based on student self-ratings, however, reviews of self-concept research claim that the I/E model does not apply to ratings by parents and significant others. We aimed to test these claims using parent inferred selfconcepts. In contrast to widely cited claims, we found support for I/E model for both students (N ¼ 486; aged 11e17; 57.2% female) and their parents (80.5% female). Math and verbal achievement had positive effects on self-concepts in the matching domain (e.g., math achievement predicting math selfconcept) but negative effects for self-concepts in the non-matching domain (e.g., math achievement predicting verbal self-concept). Integrating conflicting claims, we found support for dimensional comparison processes for inferred self-concept ratings by parents, but not for parent perceptions of student abilities similar to the measures used that were the basis of previous claims.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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