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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 self-concepts. In contrast to widely cited claims, we found support for I/E model for both students (N = 486; aged 11–17; 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 self-concept) 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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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access


© 2017. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.