Olga Poluektova
Olga Poluektova

BIGSSS, Jacobs University

Tel.: +49 421 200 3953


South Hall, Room: 308

BIGSSS-departs Ph.D. Fellow, Field C, Cohort 2017

Research Interests

Social psychology

Educational attainment

Poverty and inequality


Social cognition


Research designs for psychology and social science

Dissertation topic
Towards a Better Understanding of the Income Gap in Educational Attainment: The Roles of Self-Efficacy and Appraisal of Coping Potential

Dissertation abstract
Past research has demonstrated the negative effects of poverty on educational expectations and achievement. However, our understanding of the mechanism underlying this effect remains incomplete. In response to this gap, the proposed research links the environment of childhood poverty with the lack of mastery experiences and resulting low self-efficacy beliefs. I suggest that those beliefs act as a stable cognitive schema that becomes automatically activated in the process of appraisal of one’s coping potential, responsible for a variety of emotional and behavioural responses. Children growing up in poverty appraise their coping potential as lower, which puts them at a disadvantage compared to their more well-off counterparts when it comes to educational attainment. To test this model, I will conduct two empirical studies. The first study, conducted on a sample of 7,525 participants of the “Growing Up in Ireland” project, links family income with a variety of children’s experiences at school and demonstrates the mediating roles of these experiences in the link between family income and children’s educational expectations. The second study tests whether early-life economic disadvantage and associated experiences indeed relate to lower self-efficacy beliefs and lower coping potential, as well as attempts to explain the mechanism underlying this effect. Keywords: child poverty, educational expectations, educational attainment, self-efficacy, coping potential

Academic Supervisors
Arvid Kappas
Sonja Drobnic