An Information Distortion Model of Social Class Differences in Math Self-Concept, Intrinsic Value, and Utility Value

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In this paper, we develop an information distortion model (IDM) of social class differences in self-beliefs and values. The IDM combines psychological biases on frame-of-reference effects with sociological foci on ability stratification. This combination is hypothesized to lead to working-class children having more positive math self-beliefs and values than equally able salariat children. We further suggest that the same conditions that give rise to the working-class benefit in self-beliefs and values are associated with signaling effects that suppress educational aspirations and attainment. These hypotheses are tested in 1 cross-sectional multinational and 1 longitudinal study. The results in favor of the IDM challenge cultural models of social class differences and have implications for rational action theory.

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