I Like to Do It, I'm Able, and I Know I Am: Longitudinal Couplings Between Domain-Specific Achievement, Self-Concept, and Interest


  • This research was supported by Grant HD17553 from NICHD and by grants from the MacArthur Network on Successful Pathways through Middle Childhood. Additional support for international travel and boarding for the first author was provided by the International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course: Evolutionary and Ontogenetic Dynamics (LIFE). We thank Jens Asendorpf, Lars Penke, Gabriel Nagy, and Kai Cortina for helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.

concerning this article should be addressed to Jaap J. A. Denissen, Universiteit Utrecht, Ontwikkelingspsychologie, PO Box 80140, NL-3508 TC, Utrecht, the Netherlands. Electronic mail may be sent to j.j.a.denissen@fss.uu.nl.


The longitudinal development of the intraindividual coupling between academic achievement, interest, and self-concept of ability (SCA) was analyzed in a sample of approximately 1,000 children between grades 1 and 12 (ages 6–17). Across all calculated indexes, the average level of coupling was positive. Individuals generally felt competent and interested in domains where they achieve well, and were interested in domains where they perceive their personal strengths. The degree of coupling was the highest between interest and SCA and the lowest between interest and achievement. For all indexes, evidence for an increase in coupling across time was found. Female gender was related to a lower level of coupling. There was evidence for a positive effect of conscientiousness on the amount of coupling.