"How Dimensional Comparisons Help to Understand Linkages Between Expectancies, Values, Performance, and Choice"
The authors connect Möller and Marsh’s dimensional comparison theory with Eccles, Wigfield, and colleagues’ expectancy-value theory of achievement performance and choice, to help explain the observed relations between key constructs in expectancy value theory and their relations to individuals’ achievement outcomes by specifying processes that underlie those relations. Dimensional comparison processes concern individuals’ comparisons of their ability in one domain with their ability in another domain. The authors posit that these (along with social and temporal comparisons) play a critical role not just in the development of individuals’ self-concepts of ability but also in the development of their subjective task values for different activities, and the connections of these to performance and choice. Dimensional comparison theory and the evidence for the strong impact of dimensional comparisons on individuals’ self-concepts of ability is presented, followed by a brief overview of expectancy-value theory. The authors then discuss how dimensional comparisons can impact subjective task values but why the relations are weaker than for self-concepts of ability. They then describe how dimensional comparisons influence individuals’ interpretations of their achievement outcomes and their affective reactions to those outcomes and conclude with suggestions for future research.