Longitudinal multilevel models of the big-fish-little-pond effect on academic self-concept: counterbalancing contrast and reflected-glory effects in Hong Kong schools

  • Marsh H
  • Kong C
  • Hau K
  • 81


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 168


    Citations of this article.


Longitudinal multilevel path models (7,997 students, 44 high schools, 4 years) evaluated effects of school-average achievement and perceived school status on academic self-concept in Hong Kong, which has a collectivist culture with a highly achievement-segregated high school system. Consistent with a priori predictions based on the big-fish-little-pond effect (BFLPE), higher school-average achievements led to lower academic self-concepts (contrast effect), whereas higher perceived school status had a counterbalancing positive effect on self-concept (reflected-glory, assimilation effect). The negative BFLPE is the net effect of counterbalancing influences, stronger negative contrast effects, and weaker positive assimilation effects so that controlling perceived school status led to purer--and even more negative--contrast effects. Attending a school where school-average achievement is high simultaneously resulted in a more demanding basis of comparison for one's own accomplishments (the stronger negative contrast effect) and a source of pride (the weaker positive assimilation effect).

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • Herbert W. Marsh

  • Chit Kwong Kong

  • Kit Tai Hau

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free