The belief in meritocracy predict well-being of low status college students when perceiving discrimination?
Students in Chinese universities from lower social or economic classes may be at risk of peer discrimination with negative physical and psychological effects; they may experience poor academic, social and career outcomes. Resources for supportive counseling are unlikely; therefore, self-coping skills are essential. Student participant survey data from three Chinese universities were used to evaluate whether meritocracy belief, a coping mechanism deeply rooted in Chinese culture, protects the self-esteem, health, and school connectedness of students at risk. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was used to examine meritocracy beliefs of students from high or low status. Comparison groups of students, high socioeconomic status (SES) vs. low SES, urban vs. rural, and male vs. female were examined regarding factors relevant to discrimination. Students with high or low levels of meritocracy belief were compared for differences in self-esteem, school belongings, perception of control and victim blame. Overall a belief in meritocracy was found to support students’ self-esteem and sense of school belonging for both high- and low- status students. Perception of control was a mediator. Limitations and implications for practice and future research are discussed.
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