Gross Domestic Product, Science Interest, and Science Achievement: A Person × Nation Interaction

Elliot M. Tucker-Drob, Amanda K. Cheung, Daniel A. Briley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Maximizing science achievement is a critical target of educational policy and has important implications for national and international economic and technological competitiveness. Previous research has identified both science interest and socioeconomic status (SES) as robust predictors of science achievement, but little research has examined their joint effects. In a data set drawn from approximately 400,000 high school students from 57 countries, we documented large Science Interest × SES and Science Interest × Per Capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) interactions in the prediction of science achievement. Student interest in science is a substantially stronger predictor of science achievement in higher socioeconomic contexts and in higher-GDP nations. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that in higher-opportunity contexts, motivational factors play larger roles in learning and achievement. They add to the growing body of evidence indicating that substantial cross-national differences in psychological effect sizes are not simply a logical possibility but, in many cases, an empirical reality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2047-2057
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 20 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • PISA
  • cross-national
  • moderation
  • open data
  • open materials
  • science achievement
  • science interest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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