Cooperative-competitive social orientation and school achievement among Anglo-American and Mexican-American children

George P. Knight, William Nelson, Spencer Kagan, Jann Gumbiner

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2 Scopus citations


Researchers have suggested that the relatively poor academic performance of Mexican-American compared to Anglo-American children may result from cultural differences in cooperative-competitive social orientation. To test the relative contribution of cooperative-competitive social orientation as a personality predictor of school achievement, the cooperativeness-competitiveness, field independence, locus of control, self-esteem, and school achievement of 45 Anglo-American and 125 Mexican-American fourth, fifth, and sixth grade children were assessed. The results indicate (1) competitiveness is positively related to school achievement among the Anglo-American children but not the Mexican-American children; (2) among the Anglo-American children competitiveness is a better predictor of school achievement than field independence, locus of control, and self-esteem; (3) the personality variables are moderately but not independently related to school achievement within both cultural groups; and (4) the between-culture variance in the personality variables does not account for the between-culture variance in school achievement. Implications of the present results for understanding within- and between-group differences in school achievement are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-106
Number of pages10
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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