Causality, Agency, and Control Beliefs in East Versus West Berlin Children: A Natural Experiment on the Role of Context

Gabriele Oettingen, Todd D. Little, Ulman Lindenberger, Paul B. Baltes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Scopus citations


Beliefs about factors that affect school performance (means-ends or causality beliefs) and about self-efficacy and control (agency and control beliefs) were assessed in 313 East Berlin children (grades 2-6) before unification and in 516 West Berlin children shortly after unification. Multiple-group analyses of mean and covariance structures yielded 2 major differences: (a) East Berlin children showed lower agency and control beliefs than West Berlin children, and (b) their agency and control beliefs were more highly correlated with school grades than West Berlin children's, with strong correlations already emerging in East Berlin 2nd graders. Findings were consistent with differences between East and West Berlin school systems. East Berlin regulations (a) emphasized public performance feedback and public self-evaluation and (b) enforced unidimensional teaching strategies. Results point to a risk factor for development in East Berlin children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-595
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1994


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