Sex Roles

, Volume 19, Issue 5–6, pp 317–333 | Cite as

Parent perceptions and attributions for children's math achievement

  • Doris K. Yee
  • Jacquelynne S. Eccles


From junior high school on, girls report lower estimations of their math ability and express more negative attitudes about math than do boys, despite equivalent performance in grades. Parents show this same sex-typed bias. This paper examines the role that attributions may play in explaining these sex differences in parents' perceptions of their children's math ability. Mothers and fathers of 48 junior high school boys and girls of high, average, and low math ability completed questionnaires about their perceptions of their child's ability and effort in math, and their causal attributions for their child's successful and unsuccessful math performances. Parents' math-related perceptions and attributions varied with their child's level of math ability and gender. Parents credited daughters with more effort than sons, and sons with more talent than daughters for successful math performances. These attributional patterns predicted sex-linked variations in parents' ratings of their child's effort and talent. No sex of child effects emerged for failure attributions; instead, lack of effort was seen as the most important, and lack of ability as the least important, cause of unsuccessful math performances for both boys and girls. Implications of these attributions for parents' influence on children's developing self-concept of math ability, future expectancies, and subsequent achievement behaviors are discussed.


Junior High School Causal Attribution Math Performance Math Achievement Math Ability 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Doris K. Yee
    • 1
  • Jacquelynne S. Eccles
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MichiganUSA

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