Dispositional Hope as a Moderator of the Link Between Social Comparison with Friends and Eighth-Grade Students' Perceptions of Academic Competence

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Journal of Early Adolescence

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We examined the link between social comparison with friends and self-perceptions of academic competence during adolescence and how personality may play a role in this link. Participants were 193 eighth-grade students who attended a rural, mid-Atlantic middle school. We used difference scores to measure the extent to which students’ nominated and reciprocated friends had higher academic performance in math and reading than the students themselves. Regression analyses revealed that, as students’ friends had higher math test scores than the students themselves, students’ academic self-competence decreased. For reading, however, a similar result only held for students with higher levels of dispositional hope. The role that hope plays in how students interpret unfavorable social comparisons, and in how they view their academic competence, may not be straightforward. The implications of social comparison may also vary across academic domains.