The Internal/External Frame of Reference Model of Self-Concept and Achievement Relations: Age-Cohort and Cross-Cultural Differences

Herbert W. Marsh, Adel Salah Abduljabbar, Philip D. Parker, Alexandre J S Morin, Faisal Abdelfattah, Benjamin Nagengast, Jens Möller, Maher M. Abu-Hilal

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36 Citations (Scopus)


The internal/external frame of reference (I/E) model and dimensional comparison theory posit paradoxical relations between achievement (ACH) and self-concept (SC) in mathematics (M) and verbal (V) domains; ACH in each domain positively affects SC in the matching domain (e.g., MACH to MSC) but negatively in the nonmatching domain (e.g., MACH to VSC). This substantive-methodological synergy based on latent variable models of Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) data supports the generalizability of these predictions in relation to: mathematics and science domains, intrinsic motivation as well as self-concept, and age and nationality, based on nationally representative matched samples of fourth- and eighth-grade students from three Middle Eastern Islamic, five Western, and four Asian countries (N=117,321 students) with important theoretical, developmental, cross-cultural, and methodological implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-202
Number of pages35
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 22 2015



  • cross-cultural psychology
  • internal/external frame of reference mode
  • positive developmental psychology
  • substantive-methodological synergy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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