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Social Comparison of Abilities at an Elite College: Feeling Outclassed with 1350 SATs

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  • George R. Goethals
  • Matthew B. Kugler
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    Abstract

    Two studies explored the experience and performance of students at Williams College in three-person groups that were homogeneous or heterogeneous in rated academic ability. In accord with hypotheses from Festinger’s (1954) social comparison theory, students in academically homogeneous groups had more positive experiences and performed better on measures of written and video-taped performance. These results differ somewhat from recent studies of peer effects among roommates and from a line of recent social comparison research regarding the effect of exposure to superior others on one’s own performance. In addition, students in single-sex groups had higher scores on several self-report and performance measures. Qualifying this finding were additional results showing that women did better in single-sex, while men did better in mixed-sex groups. The overall results were framed in terms of social comparison dynamics.

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    File URL: http://sites.williams.edu/wpehe/files/2011/06/DP-70.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Department of Economics, Williams College in its series Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education with number DP-70.

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    Length: 39 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:wil:wilehe:70

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