Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology


Educational Psychology and Methodology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, xiv, 113 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

David Y Dai

Committee Members

Zheng Yan, Kristie Asaro-Saddler


academic self-concept, big-fish-little-pond effect, gifted, implicit theories of intelligence, reflected glory effect, social comparison, Gifted children, College students, Academic achievement, Personality and academic achievement, Self-esteem

Subject Categories

Educational Psychology


Research has demonstrated that academic self-concept is subject to change throughout the course of schooling due to contextual factors. Students placed in highly selective programs tended to have lower academic self-concepts than their peers with similar ability levels in less selective programs or schools due to the shift of frame of references, which is known as the “big-fish-little-pond effect”. However, there was research demonstrating individual factors play an important role in driving changes in academic- self-concept. The first aim of this study was to investigate the big-fish-little-pond effect (BFLPE) in gifted college students in mainland China and to examine whether the BFLPE is indeed ubiquitous and could be replicated and generalized in a distinctive cultural setting like China. The study also examined the role of social comparison, implicit theories of intelligence, reflected glory effect, and attribution as moderating variables in the big-fish-little-pond effect (BFLPE). In the current study, 429 freshmen in Shanghai were included in a pre-test post-test study using nine instruments. The results supported the prevalence of the big-fish-little-pond effect in gifted youth in Eastern Asian cultural setting. The results also clarified the role of social comparison, implicit theories of intelligence, reflected glory effect and cultural influences. Limitations as well as recommendations for future research were also discussed.