Matthew Effects (Rich Get Richer)

Anne E. Cunningham & Yi-Jui Chen

In: Encyclopedia of Language Development

Matthew Effects (Rich Get Richer)

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  • Matthew Effects refer to the theory that initial advantages lead to further cumulative advantages. The term is derived from the gospel according to Matthew in the Bible's New Testament:

    To all those who have, more will be given, and they will have in abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.

    —Matthew 13:12, The New Oxford Annotated Bible (New Revised Standard Version)

    This verse was first used to explain scientific productivity: More prestigious scientists are more readily acknowledged for their contributions than less well-known scientists who made similar discoveries or contributions. Within educational settings, references to Matthew Effects arise from the empirical evidence suggesting that advantages in early educational experience pave the path for subsequent learning. Essentially, existing intellectual and motivational ...

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