Symposium: "Self-concept and Social Comparison Processes in Adolescents"

Year: 1995

Author: Smith, Ian

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Research on self-concept in the 1980s began to investigate the multidimensional character of the construct, with factorially improved instruments, such as MarshAs Self Description Questionnaire and HarterAs Self-Perception Profile. Self theory was also advanced by MarshAs elaboration of social comparison processes whereby adolescents use a frame of reference to compare their qualities and abilities with those of their peers. Adolescents typically make social comparisons according to what Marsh called the obig-fish-little-pond effecto, which may result in increased to decreased self-concept depending upon the social context of the school they attend. The first paper in this symposium will examine this effect on gifted and talented student self-concept in three types of school: a selective high school, a comprehensive high school where English and mathematics classes are streamed and an unstreamed comprehensive high school. The second paper will investigate self-concept and social comparison processes of adolescents with physical disabilities. It will test the hypothesis that integrated school settings may cause self-concept problems for adolescents with a physical disability when the integrated setting contains no other students with a disability for comparison purposes.

The third paper reports a ten-year follow-up study on two Sydney high schools which changed from being single-sex to become coeducational schools. It discusses gender differences in the student self-concepts and provides details of the confounding effects of other changes which occurred at the two adjacent schools.