ERIC Number: ED469479
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2002-May
Reference Count: N/A
Social Comparison and Peer Effects at an Elite College. Discussion Paper.
Goethals, George R.
A study was conducted to see whether peer effects could be observed among 102 undergraduates at Williams College, an elite four-year liberal arts school. The study explored whether students in the bottom third of their class, with average Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) scores of about 1300, would perform better in writing about newspaper articles they read and discussed in groups of three if the two others in the group were academically superior, from the top third of their class, with SAT scores averaging about 1500, than similar, from the bottom third of the class. Results show that women subjects performed better if their discussion partners were from the top third of the class, but men did better if their discussion partners were from the bottom third. Alternative analyses comparing subjects who had better or worse discussion partners as determined by the quality of their peers videotaped discussion statements, show that across gender, subjects did better written work when their discussion partners were better. Results are interpreted in terms of the principles of social comparison theory (L. Festinger, 1954). (Contains 19 references.) (Author/SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: Williams Coll., Williamstown, MA.