Integration of Multidimensional Self-Concept and Core Personality Constructs: Construct Validation and Relations to Well-Being and Achievement


  • These data come from the large-scale Transformation of the Upper Secondary School System and Academic Careers (TOSCA) project directed by Professor Jürgen Baumert of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany, and Olaf Köller, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. The TOSCA project is supported by a grant from the German Research Foundation (Ko 1513/6-1). The present investigation was conducted while Professor Marsh was a Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and was supported in part by the University of Western Sydney, the Max Planck Institute, and the Australian Research Council. The authors would like to thank Rainer Watermann and Gabriel Nagy, who were responsible for scaling math achievement and basic cognitive abilities measures, and Andrea D. Schwanzer for her assistance with the German Self Description Questionnaire. Requests for further information about this investigation should be sent to Professor Herbert W. Marsh, Department of Educational Studies, University of Oxford, 15 Norham Gardens, Oxford OX2 6PY UK; E-Mail: Correspondence about the broader Transformation of the Upper Secondary School System and Academic Careers (TOSCA) project study should be sent to Professor Jürgen Baumert, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Lentzeallee 94, D-14195 Berlin, Germany. E-mail:


Relations between multiple dimensions of self-concept, personality (Big Five), well-being, and academic outcomes (school grades, test scores, coursework selection) for a large (N=4,475) sample of German adolescents support the construct validity of a well-defined, multidimensional set of self-concept factors in relation to personality factors, and vice versa. Confirmatory factor analysis of a German adaptation of the Self Description Questionnaire III demonstrated 17 a priori, reasonably independent self-concept factors (M correlation=.14; SD=.17) that had a highly differentiated pattern of relations with the personality factors and academic outcomes. Consistent with theory and previous research, math and verbal self-concepts were negatively related to each other, and this extreme domain specificity was reflected in the systematic and substantial relations with academic criteria measures. Self-esteem, Big Five, and well-being factors explained only small amounts of variance in academic outcomes and support for their incremental validity after controlling for specific self-concept factors was weak.