Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 769–784 | Cite as

From social class to self-efficacy: internalization of low social status pupils’ school performance

  • Virginie Wiederkehr
  • Céline Darnon
  • Sébastien Chazal
  • Serge Guimond
  • Delphine Martinot


Previous research has largely documented that socioeconomic status (SES) is a strong and consistent predictor of pupils’ school performance in several countries. In this research, we argue that children internalize the SES achievement gap in the form of a lower/higher sense of school self-efficacy. In two studies, teenaged students’ (Study 1) and children’s (Study 2) self-efficacy was measured. Their parents’ occupations as well as the students’ anticipated grades (Study 1) and real grades (Study 2) in mathematics and French were recorded. The results indicated that SES affected both self-efficacy and school performances. Moreover, self-efficacy mediated the link between SES and mathematics performance. Thus, a seemingly psychological factor (i.e., self-efficacy) actually depends on social status and further contributes to explain low SES students’ poor performance in school.


Self-efficacy School performance Social status Internalization 



This research was supported by the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche, the Swiss National Foundation, and the Région Auvergne. We wish to express our gratitude to Lyon Catholic University for its participation in Study 2.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginie Wiederkehr
    • 1
  • Céline Darnon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sébastien Chazal
    • 1
  • Serge Guimond
    • 1
  • Delphine Martinot
    • 1
  1. 1.University Clermont Auvergne, Université Blaise PascalClermont-FerrandFrance
  2. 2.Institut Universitaire de FranceUniversity Clermont Auvergne, Université Blaise PascalClermont-FerrandFrance

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