Race-Ethnicity and the Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect in the United States


  • Tara L. Lesick Orcid
  • Ethan Zell Orcid


According to research on the big-fish-little-pond effect, students with a high rank in a low rank school have more favorable self-evaluations than students with a low rank in a high rank school. We examined whether this effect extends to a racial-ethnic context. Black and White adults in the United States completed a social perception test and were told that they had a high rank in a racial group that performed poorly or a low rank in a racial group that performed well. Black participants identified more strongly with their racial group than White participants. However, the big-fish-little-pond effect occurred and was similar in size across Black and White participants. These results suggest that the big-fish-little-pond effect generalizes to a racial-ethnic context and replicates across majority and minority group members.