Latest publications from our Fellows for 2015

October 2015

Dietrich, J., Dicke, A.-L., Kracke, B., & Noack, P. (2015). Teacher support and its influence on students' intrinsic value and effort: Dimensional comparison effects across subjects. Learning and Instruction, 39 (0), 45-54.


While positive influences of teacher support on students' motivational development have been widely shown, existing research has not yet considered that students' school experiences are interrelated across classrooms and subjects. The aims of this study were, thus, twofold: (a) To investigate the effects of teacher support on the development of students' intrinsic value and effort; and (b) based on dimensional comparison theory, to examine potential cross-subject contrast effects of teacher support in one subject on students' intrinsic value and effort in another subject. Using a sample of 1155 German students assessed in Grade 5 and 6, multilevel latent change models revealed positive within-subject associations between teacher support and intrinsic value and effort. Furthermore, support for contrast effects was found. Higher levels of teacher support in one subject were related negatively to intrinsic value and effort in another subject, calling for the examination of students' classroom experiences as interrelated across subjects.


August 2015

Banerjee, M., Rowley, S.J. & Johnson, D.J. (2015). Community violence and racial socialization: Their influence on psychological well-being of African American college students Journal of Black Psychology 41(4), 358-383


The present study investigated the links between community violence exposure (witnessing and direct victimization) and racial socialization and psychological well-being in a sample of 281African American college students (76% female). We predicted that community violence exposure would be negatively related to psychosocial well-being. Additionally, it was hypothesized that the dimensions of racial socialization, cultural socialization and preparation for bias, would mitigate the effects of community violence exposure on psychosocial well-being. Consistent with the research hypotheses, the results from this study show that racial socialization buffers the effects of community violence exposure on mental health outcomes. Implications for assessing exposure to community violence and how racial socialization may mitigate psychosocial well-being are discussed.


Sortheix, F. M., Chow, A., & Salmela-Aro, K. (2015). Work values and the transition to work life: A longitudinal study. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 89, 162-171.


Research on career development has shown that work values play a key motivational role in job selection and career development. In the context of the current economic crisis, it is of particular relevance to examine the role of work values for employment in the transition from school to work. This longitudinal study examined the role of intrinsic (perceived importance of having a job that is interesting and matches one's own competences), rewards (having a good salary and high chance for promotion), and security (having a stable job) work values on subsequent employment status and person–job fit (how an individual's job matches one's own characteristics such as education and job preferences). Finnish participants reported their work values and background variables via questionnaire at ages 20 and 23 (Ns = 348 and 415 respectively). Intrinsic work values predicted a higher degree of person–job fit two years later. Rewards work values predicted lower chances of being unemployed; and security work values predicted higher chances of being unemployed later on. Family socio-economic status (SES) was not related to employment outcomes in this Finnish sample.


July 2015

Moeller, J., Salmela-Aro, K., Lavonen, J., & Schneider, B. (2015). Does anxiety in math and science classrooms impair math and science motivation? Gender differences beyond the mean level. International Journal of Gender, Science, and Technology, 7(2) FULL TEXT


This study investigated gender differences in the experience of situational anxiety (referred to as ‘state anxiety’) among a sample of 268 US and 202 Finnish lower- and upper-secondary-school / high-school students (51.0% female; 177 ninth-graders, 218 tenth-graders, 37 eleventh-graders, 38 twelfth-graders, 10 unspecified grade). Three main research questions guided our study: 1) Do male and female students differ in their anxiety during science lessons if in-the-moment state measures are used?; 2) How does anxiety affect motivation in science classes?; and 3) Does the relationship of anxiety to motivation differ by gender

We employed the experience sampling method (ESM), a form of time/diary instrument, to assess experiences of anxiety in the moment in which they occur, in different contexts, e.g., in and out of school and in specific science lessons. Males and females did not differ in mean levels of state anxiety with in-the-moment measures, which corroborates previous findings. Females tended to experience less positive affect and intrinsic motivation, and more negative affect and withdrawal motivation in anxious states across all their everyday life experiences. In science lessons, the only consistent finding was that females tended to experience more stress in anxious situations than males. The findings suggest that previously found gender differences in math and science anxiety might be due to biases in the applied measures (see Goetz et al., 2013), which has important theoretical and practical implications for the assessment and interpretation of gender differences in science classrooms.


June 2015

Lechner, C. M., Silbereisen, R. K., Tomasik, M. J., & Wasilewski, J. (2015). Getting going and letting go: Religiosity fosters opportunity-congruent coping with work-related uncertainties. International Journal of Psychology, 50(3), 205–214.


This study investigated how religiosity relates to goal engagement (i.e., investing time and effort; overcoming obstacles) and goal disengagement (i.e., protecting self-esteem and motivational resources against failure experiences; distancing from unattainable goals) in coping with perceived work-related uncertainties (e.g., growing risk of job loss) that arise from current social change. We hypothesised that religiosity not only expands individuals' capacities for both engagement and disengagement but also fosters an opportunity-congruent pattern of engagement and disengagement, promoting engagement especially under favourable opportunities for goal-striving in the social ecology and facilitating disengagement especially under unfavourable opportunities. Multilevel analyses in a sample of N = 2089 Polish adults aged 20-46 years partly supported these predictions. Religiosity was associated with higher goal engagement, especially under favourable economic opportunities for goal-striving in the social ecology (as measured by the regional net migration rate). For disengagement, the results were more mixed; religiosity was related to higher self-protection independently of the economic opportunity structure and predicted higher goal-distancing only under the most unfavourable opportunities. These results suggest that religiosity can promote different coping strategies under different conditions, fostering a pattern of opportunity-congruent engagement and, to some extent, disengagement that is likely to be adaptive.


Körner, A., Lechner, C. M., Pavlova, M. K., & Silbereisen, R. K. (2015). Goal engagement in coping with occupational uncertainty predicts favorable career-related outcomes. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 88, 174-184. Note: The author names are in alphabetical order, all authors have contributed equally to this manuscript.


We investigated whether goal engagement and disengagement in coping with occupational uncertainty (e.g., perceptions of growing difficulties in career planning and lacking job opportunities) predicts three objective career-related outcomes: job loss, job finding, and income change. We also tested for the buffering effects of these coping strategies on the association between objectively unfavorable labor market conditions (as indicated by regional unemployment rates) and these outcomes. We used four-wave survey data from a longitudinal sample of 620 German adults aged 16–43 years at the first wave and analyzed changes in the three career-related outcomes across 1294 pairs of successive annual waves. Analyses revealed that goal engagement predicted a higher chance of job finding over one year. Moreover, goal engagement buffered the association between higher regional unemployment rates and a higher likelihood of job loss, as well as a lower income, over one year. Goal disengagement predicted a lower income but had no other statistically significant effects. Thus, even in a relatively highly regulated labor market like the German one, goal engagement in coping with occupational uncertainty can contribute to objective career success.


Leopold, T., & Lechner, C. M. (2015). Parents’ death and adult well-being: Gender, age, and adaptation to filial bereavement. Journal of Marriage and Family, 77(3), 747–760.


The authors investigated how filial bereavement affects the subjective well-being of adult children. They used data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study to examine temporal profiles of life satisfaction in 2,760 adult children ages 17–70 who moved through the stages of anticipation of, reaction to, and adaptation to a parent's death. Fixed effects models covering up to 11 yearly measurements per respondent revealed that the negative effects of parental loss on life satisfaction varied substantially by gender and age. First, daughters who lost their mothers experienced the deepest drops in life satisfaction. Second, negative effects were stronger if filial bereavement was “off time”: children who lost a parent in younger adulthood experienced steeper declines in life satisfaction. Daughters who are untimely bereaved of their mothers did not fully adapt even several years after the death.


Pavlova, M. K., & Silbereisen, R. K. (2015). Factual versus potential civic participation in a post-communist region: A typological approach. Voluntas, 26, 941-961.


A typological approach to civic participation and nonparticipation may be useful to develop targeted recruitment or intervention strategies. We applied the behavior change framework, which distinguishes between preintenders, intenders, and actors, to civic participation. Using a sample of 695 individuals (aged 20–40) surveyed in 2010 in two of the new federal states of Germany, we conducted latent profile analysis on three continuous indicators of civic participation (factual participation, perceived behavioral control, and future intention). Five profiles emerged: the Staunch Abstainers, the Indifferent Abstainers, the Somewhat Committed, the Aspiring, and the Highly Committed. The profiles significantly differed in socioeconomic status (SES) but not in age, gender, employment, or family status. Moreover, a higher SES was not always associated with higher civic participation, and different SES indicators appeared to play different roles. We discuss ways to foster civic participation in each group.


May 2015

Lechner, C. M., & Rammstedt, B. (2015).Cognitive ability, acquiescence, and the structure of personality in a sample of older adults. Psychological Assessment (Advance online publication)


Acquiescence, or the tendency to respond to descriptions of conceptually distinct personality attributes with agreement/affirmation, constitutes a major challenge in personality assessment. The aim of this study was to shed light on cognitive ability as a potential source of individual differences in acquiescent responding. We hypothesized that respondents with lower cognitive ability exhibit stronger acquiescent response tendencies than respondents with higher cognitive ability and that this leads to problems in establishing the Big Five structure by means of principal component analyses (exploratory factor analysis was not applicable to these data) in the former group. Further, we hypothesized that after controlling for acquiescence by using mean-corrected instead of raw item scores, the Big Five structure holds even among respondents with lower cognitive ability. Analyses in a sample of 1,071 German adults aged 56 to 75 years using the Digit Symbol Substitution Test as a measure of cognitive ability and the BFI-10, a 10-item abbreviated version of the Big Five Inventory, as a measure of personality, corroborated these hypotheses. These findings suggest that lower cognitive ability and age-related declines in cognitive functioning more specifically are associated with higher acquiescence, which in turn leads to problems in establishing the Big Five structure among individuals with lower cognitive ability that should be addressed by controlling for acquiescence.


Perlman M, Lyons-Amos M.J., Leckie G, Steele F, Jenkins J (2015) Capturing the Temporal Sequence of Interaction in Young Siblings. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0126353. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126353


We explored whether young children exhibit subtypes of behavioral sequences during sibling interaction. Ten-minute, free-play observations of over 300 sibling dyads were coded for positivity, negativity and disengagement. The data were analyzed using growth mixture modeling (GMM). Younger (18-month-old) children’s temporal behavioral sequences showed a harmonious (53%) and a casual (47%) class. Older (approximately four-year-old) children’s behavior was more differentiated revealing a harmonious (25%), a deteriorating (31%), a recovery (22%) and a casual (22%) class. A more positive maternal affective climate was associated with more positive patterns. Siblings’ sequential behavioral patterns tended to be complementary rather than reciprocal in nature. The study illustrates a novel use of GMM and makes a theoretical contribution by showing that young children exhibit distinct types of temporal behavioral sequences that are related to parenting processes.


April 2015

Jerrim, J. (2015) Why do East Asian children perform so well in PISA? An investigation of Western-born children of East Asian descent Oxford Review of Education 41(3), 310-333


A small group of high-performing East Asian economies dominate the top of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. This has caught the attention of Western policymakers, who want to know why East Asian children obtain such high PISA scores, and what can be done to replicate their success. In this paper I investigate whether children of East Asian descent, who were born and raised in a Western country (Australia), also score highly on the PISA test. I then explore whether their superior performance (relative to children of Australian heritage) can be explained by reasons often given for East Asian students’ extraordinary educational achievements. My results suggest that second-generation East Asian immigrants outperform their native Australian peers by approximately 100 test points. Moreover, the magnitude of this achievement gap has increased substantially over the last ten years. Yet there is no ‘silver bullet’ that can explain why East Asian children obtain such high levels of academic achievement. Rather a combination of factors, each making their own independent contribution, seem to be at play. Consequently, I warn Western policymakers that it may only be possible to catch the leading East Asian economies in the PISA rankings with widespread cultural change.


Ballard, P. J.,* Pavlova, M. K.,* Silbereisen, R. K., & Damon, W. (Eds.) (2015). Diverse routes to civic participation across ages and cultures: An Introduction [Special issue]. Research in Human Development, 12(1-2), 1-9. * Equal contributions.


Civic participation is a cornerstone of civil societies and a part of positive and productive individual development. Much is known about individual predictors of civic participation among ethnic majority Western adolescent and young adult samples. In this special issue, the authors aim to uncover the predictors of civic participation in less studied populations to better understand diverse routes to civic participation across ages and cultures. Framed by life-span and ecological perspectives, this special issue draws together studies that target different age groups, from adolescents to the old–old, as well as minority and immigrant populations and residents of diverse countries, including the United States, Australia, Eastern and Western European countries, and Turkey.


Blanchard, S., Judy, J., Muller, C., Crawford, R. H., Petrosino, A., White, C.K., & Wood, K.L. (2015). Beyond Blackboards: Engaging Underserved Middle School Students in Engineering. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research 5:1-14. FULL TEXT


Beyond Blackboards is an inquiry-centered, after-school program designed to enhance middle school students’ engagement with engineering through design-based experiences focused on the 21st Century Engineering Challenges. Set within a predominantly lowincome, majority-minority community, our study aims to investigate the impact of Beyond Blackboards on students’ interest in and understanding of engineering, as well as their ability to align their educational and career plans. We compare participants’ and nonparticipants’ questionnaire responses before the implementation and at the end of the program’s first academic year. Statistically significant findings indicate a school-wide increase in students’ interest in engineering careers, supporting a shift in school culture. However, only program participants showed increased enjoyment of design-based strategies, understanding of what engineers do, and awareness of the steps for preparing for an engineering career. These quantitative findings are supported by qualitative evidence from participant focus groups highlighting the importance of mentors in shaping students’ awareness of opportunities within engineering.

Constan, Z., & Spicer Judy, J. (2015) Maximizing Future Potential in Physics and STEM: Evaluating a summer program through a partnership between science outreach and education research. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement 19(2): 177-137. FULL TEXT


Global competitiveness of the United States is often suggested as a key outcome of developing a capable science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce, a goal supported by many local, state, and national programs. Examining the effectiveness of such programs, however, may require assessment techniques that are outside their organizers’ expertise. The physicists conducting the physics outreach program in the current study partnered with education researchers at the same university to achieve a more thorough measure of program effectiveness while also demonstrating how such partnerships represent an opportunity to add rigor to current evaluation. The resulting analyses demonstrated that participants in the outreach program (a) were more likely than nonparticipants to pursue an education and career in STEM, (b) were able to define and execute plans to solidify a strong foundation for pursuing a career in STEM, and (c) persisted in pursuing education in STEM after high school graduation.


Pavlova, M. K., Körner, A., & Silbereisen, R. K. (2015). Perceived social support, perceived community functioning, and civic participation across the life span: Evidence from the former East Germany. Research in Human Development, 12, 100-117.


Are social contexts as important to civic participation in adulthood as they are in adolescence? And does their significance for civic participation vary across adulthood? Using data from a cross-sectional sample of German adults aged 18 to 75 who were surveyed in 2013 by mail, the authors investigated the relationships of perceived family support, perceived support from friends, place attachment, social cohesion, and organizational collective efficacy with three indicators of civic participation. The authors split the sample into four age groups: 18 to 29 (n1 = 442), 30 to 44 (n2 = 596), 45 to 59 (n3 = 1,095), and 60 to 75 (n4 = 931). Perceived support from family was negatively associated with the breadth (i.e., the number of domains) of civic participation in the youngest group and with future intentions for civic participation in three age groups. Perceived support from friends had positive relationships with the intensity (i.e., frequency) of civic participation and with future intentions at age 30 to 44. Place attachment and organizational collective efficacy were positively related to all indicators of civic participation, and some of these associations held across age groups. In contrast, social cohesion had no significant effects. The authors discuss implications for fostering civic participation across adulthood.


Rieger, S., Göllner, R., Trautwein, U., & Roberts, B. W. (2015). Low Self-Esteem Prospectively Predicts Depression in the Transition to Young Adulthood: A Replication of Orth, Robins, and Roberts (2008). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Advanced online publication)


The present study is a close replication of the work of Orth, Robins, and Roberts (2008). Orth et al. (2008) tested three theoretical models of the relation between self-esteem and depression-the vulnerability model, the scar model, and the common factor model-using longitudinal, cross-lagged panel designs. The authors concluded that depression and self-esteem were not the same construct (contrary to the common-factor model), and furthermore, the results were clearly in line with the vulnerability model and not with the scar model (low self-esteem predicts subsequent levels of depression and not vice versa). In addition, the results held for both men and women. To conduct a very close replication of the work of Orth et al. (2008), we used data from another large longitudinal study (N = 2,512), which is highly similar in study design and that contains the same measures (self-esteem and depression). The present study replicated the results of the Orth et al. (2008) study in a notable manner, in regard to the comparability of the coefficients, and therefore, corroborates the vulnerability model (and not the scar- or the common-factor model).

March 2015

Lechner, C. M., & Leopold, T. (2015). Religious attendance buffers the impact of unemployment on life satisfaction: Longitudinal evidence from Germany. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 54(1), 166–174.


This research used longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) to examine whether religious attendance buffers the impact of unemployment on life satisfaction. Fixed effects models following 5,446 individuals up to three years after the transition to unemployment yielded two central findings. First, higher frequency of religious attendance was associated with smaller drops in life satisfaction. Second, only those who attended religious services on a weekly basis adapted to unemployment. These results suggest that religious attendance on a weekly basis can mitigate the psychological impact of unemployment.

Jerrim, J. and Vignoles, A. (2015) University access for disadvantaged children: A comparison across English speaking countries. Higher Education 70(6), 903-921


In this paper, we consider whether certain countries are particularly adept (or particularly poor) at getting children from disadvantaged homes to study for a bachelor’s degree. A series of university access models are estimated for four English-speaking countries (England, Canada, Australia and the USA), which include controls for comparable measures of academic achievement at age 15. Our results suggest that socioeconomic differences in university access are more pronounced in England and Canada than Australia and the USA and that cross-national variation in the socioeconomic gap remains even once we take account of differences in academic achievement. We discuss the implications of our findings for the creation of more socially mobile societies.


January 2015

Hietajärvi, L., Tuominen-Soini, H., Hakkarainen, K., Salmela-Aro, K., & Lonka, K. (2015). Is student motivation related to socio-digital participation? A person-oriented approach. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 171, 1156–1167.


There is a hypothesized gap between the technology-mediated practices of adolescents and school, hindering student motivation and well-being. This study examined how students’ school motivation is associated with ICT-use. Previous research has shown that achievement goal orientations are related to students’ academic and emotional functioning. Simultaneously, adolescents engage in various socio-digital activities on a daily basis. Our aim is to integrate these two approaches to examine whether students with different motivational profiles display different patterns of socio-digital participation. The participants were Finnish high school students (N=1342) who filled in a self-report questionnaire assessing school motivation and ICT-use both in and out of school. We examined the structural validity of the measurement model by confirmatory factor analyses, classified the students by latent profile analyses and examined group and gender differences by ANOVAs. Four groups were identified: indifferent, success-oriented, mastery-oriented, and avoidance-oriented. The groups differed in their generalized motivational beliefs and there were meaningful differences in terms of their orientations to socio-digital participation: e.g. indifferent students were more likely to engage in hanging-out and gaming, avoidance-oriented students were the least engaged in academic activities. Also, there were some interesting group × gender interaction effects. We found that students’ indifference towards school is associated with ICT-engagement outside of school (gaming and hanging-out). We conclude that there appears to be evidence of discontinuities between today's schools and their students, raising a question of whether the indifference is the cause or the outcome. Furthermore, the findings raise new insights on achievement goal and gender interaction effects.


Sortheix, F. M. & Lönnqvist, J.-E. (2015). Person-group value congruence and subjective well-being in students from Argentina, Bulgaria and Finland. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 25, 34-48.


The present study examined the relations between personal values, value congruence, interpersonal relationships and subjective well-being in psychology/education and business students from Argentina (N = 275), Bulgaria (N = 182) and Finland (N = 148). Regression analyses showed, first, that there were no direct relations between higher order value priorities and life satisfaction (LS), positive affect (PA) or negative affect (NA). Second, objective value-congruence (VC)—the similarity between individual and group values—was positively related to LS and PA, and negatively related to NA. Most importantly, the effects of VC on LS, NA and PA were partially mediated by good interpersonal relationships. Our results show that interpersonal relationships are facilitated by sharing values similar to those of one's fellow students. More generally, personal values per se appear not to be associated with subjective well-being, more important is how these values fit into the social context.


Lechner, C. M., & Silbereisen, R. K. (2015). Neue Impulse fur die Sozialisationsforschung aus der Entwicklungspsychologie [New directions for socialization research: Insights from developmental psychology]. Zeitschrift für Soziologie der Erziehung und Sozialisation, 35(2), 139–155.


Der Sozialisationsbegriff hat sich im deutschen Sprachraum in den letzten zwei Jahrzehnten fast bis zur Synonymität dem aktuellen Entwicklungsbegriff der Entwicklungspsychologie angenähert. Dies macht die Entwicklungspsychologie zu einer wichtigen Quelle für die Sozialisationsforschung.