Do girls' typically better school grades have "side effects"?
We investigated whether girls report more school-related burnout than boys and what the reasons for this are. A first study examining gender differences in school-related burnout showed that girls make their self-worth more dependent on their academic success than boys (contingent academic self-worth) and that this is associated with more extrinsic (rather than intrinsic) academic motivation (Herrmann, Koeppen & Kessels, 2019).
Another study, in which we were able to use a representative sample from Belgium (Kessels & Van Houtte, 2021), showed that girls were not only more engaged in school than boys, but also reported lower well-being. Contrary to our assumption, however, it was not the case that girls' well-being was particularly low when they were primarily extrinsically motivated while being highly engaged in school. On the contrary, there was evidence that extrinsic motivation was less detrimental to subjective well-being for those girls who were more engaged in school. Can school engagement positively influence well-being in girls even when they are uninterested in what is being taught in lessons? This could support the notion that girls possess advanced self-regulatory competencies.
Kessels, U. & Van Houtte, M. (2021). Side effects of academic engagement? How boys’ and girls’ well-being is related to their academic engagement and motivational regulation. Gender and Education, 34(6), 627-642. https://doi.org/10.1080/09540253.2021.2011840
Herrmann, J., Koeppen, K. & Kessels, U. (2019). Do girls take school too seriously? Investigating gender differences in school burnout from a self-worth perspective. Learning and Individual Differences, 69, 150-161. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2018.11.011