The effect of social comparison information on learned helpless and mastery-oriented children in achievement settings

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Abstract

The present study investigates the effect of social comparison information on learned helpless and mastery-oriented children's attributions, behaviour, and affect following a failure experience. Ninety-one fifth grade children experienced failure in the context of high consensus or group failure feedback, low consensus or personal failure feedback or no social comparison feedback. The Jindings point to the robustness of the helpless and mastery response patterns: the behaviour of learned helpless children, as compared to mastery-oriented children, deteriorated following failure regardless of the social comparison feedback they recieved. However, the attributions made by the two groups of children differed. Mastery-oriented children appeared to use social comparison information more accurately in that they appropriately made higher task difficulty ratings when receiving group failure feedback than when receiving personal failure feedback. Learned helpless children were more likely to use a self-derogatory bias and made attributions to their low ability, even when presented with social comparison feedback that was contrary to their bias. These findings are discussed in terms of their implications for education and for intervention with learned helpless childrens.

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