Reading Self-Perceived Ability, Enjoyment and Achievement: A Genetically Informative Study of Their Reciprocal Links Over Time

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Abstract

Extant literature has established a consistent association between aspects of reading motivation, such as enjoyment and self-perceived ability, and reading achievement, in that more motivated readers are generally more skilled readers. However, the developmental etiology of this relation is yet to be investigated. The present study explores the development of the motivation–achievement association and its genetic and environmental underpinnings. Applying cross-lagged design in a sample of 13,825 twins, we examined the relative contribution of genetic and environmental factors to the association between reading enjoyment and self-perceived ability and reading achievement. Children completed a reading comprehension task and self-reported their reading enjoyment and perceived ability twice in middle childhood: when they were 9–10 and 12 years old. Results showed a modest reciprocal association over time between reading motivation (enjoyment and perceived ability) and reading achievement. Reading motivation at age 9–10 statistically predicted the development of later achievement, and similarly, reading achievement at age 9–10 predicted the development of later motivation. This reciprocal association was observed beyond the stability of the variables and their contemporaneous correlation and was largely explained by genetic factors.

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