Children's Action-Control Beliefs About School Performance: How Do American Children Compare With German and Russian Children?

Todd D. Little, Gabriele Oettingen, Anna Stetsenko, Paul B. Baltes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations

Abstract

Using the revised Control, Agency, and Means-ends Interview (T.D. Little, G. Oettingen, & P.B. Baltes, 1995), we compared American children's (Grades 2-6) action-control beliefs about school performance with those of German and Russian children (Los Angeles, n = 657; East Berlin, n = 313; West Berlin, n = 517; Moscow, n = 541). Although we found pronounced cross-setting similarities in the children's everyday causality beliefs about what factors produce school performance, we obtained consistent cross-setting differences in (a) the mean levels of the children's personal agency and control expectancy and (b) the correlational magnitudes between these beliefs and actual school performance. Notably, the American children were at the extremes of the cross-national distributions: (a) they had the highest mean levels of personal agency and control expectancy but (b) the lowest beliefs-performance correlations. Such outcomes indicate that the low beliefs-performance correlations that are frequently obtained in American research appear to be specific to American settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)686-700
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume69
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1995

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