Race-ethnicity and the big-fish-little-pond effect

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Tara L. Lesick (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Ethan Zell

Abstract: Research on the big-fish-little-pond effect has found that students with high rank in a low rank school have more favor able academic self-concepts than students with low rank in a high rank school. The big-fish-little pond effect has been primarily studied in school settings. Further, it remains unknown whether the effect generalizes to a racial-ethnic context, despite the fact that people often compare themselves with other members of their racial group and compare their racial group to other groups. The current research filled this gap by having White and Black participants (N = 107 and 106) complete a social perception test and receive feedback indicating that they had high rank in a racial group that performed relatively poorly or low rank in a racial group that performed relatively well. Because African Americans identify more strongly with their racial group than European Americans, I hypothesized that a significant big-fish-little-pond effect would only occur among White participants. However, results indicated that a significant and large big-fish-little-pond effect was obtained for both White and Black participants. That is, participants in both racial groups focused mostly on their performance relative to people of their own race during self-evaluation. Broadly, the current research contributes to the social comparison literature by demonstrating how self-evaluations are impacted by intergroup and intragroup comparisons involving race-ethnicity.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2021
Education, Ethnic studies, Race relations, Self-concept, Self-evaluations, Social comparison
Students $x Self-rating of
Social comparison
Students, Black
Race relations

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