Most research on the associations between different aspects of motivation (e.g., self-concept of ability, task values, and expectancies) has been conducted with a focus on STEM disciplines such as engineering, physical science, or computer science, which have a significant under-representation of women. However, research on the development of motivation in the field of social sciences is scarce, despite the significant role that social science disciplines play in both educational and occupational settings.


The director of GenTIC, Milagros Sáinz, has developed a research study co-authored with Katja Upadyaya, Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Helsinki, which examines the cross-lagged associations between adolescent students’ intrinsic value, self-concept of ability, and expectations in social sciences during and after the transition from compulsory secondary education to the Spanish high school. The research, which results have been recently published by Current Psychology, consisted of a four-wave longitudinal study that involved 2.032 students enrolled in the last three years of secondary school and the second year of high school education.


The research findings showed that students’ self-concept of ability strongly predicted the other two aspects of motivation. Moreover, males and students from higher socio-economic status backgrounds and with high academic performance at the beginning of the study experienced higher intrinsic value, self-concept, and expectations in social sciences than females and students from lower socio-economic status families and with a lower level of performance.


Find the article available in open access in Current Psychology.



Sáinz, M. [Milagros], & Upadyaya, K. [Katja]. (2023). The development of social science motivation across the transition to high school education. Current Psychology.


Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash.


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