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Title:Peer Perception of Social Behavior Change in Popular and Unpopular Children
Author(s):Singleton, Louise Cornacchia
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Developmental
Abstract:Despite the large number of social skill training studies designed to improve the sociometric status of unpopular children, little is known about how children perceive and interpret social behavior change in their less popular classmates. The present research, using videotape simulation, examined three issues related to reputation and children's perception of behavior change: (a) the relationship between a child's reputation and the way other children perceive and interpret the child's social behavior; (b) the influence of the salience of the behavior change on children's perceptions and interpretations; and (c) differences between high- and low-sociometric status children in their perception of a peer's behavior change.
The participants were 127 fifth-grade boys. Each boy was shown a videotape in which reputational information on the main character was given and then the child's behavior was shown to change from initially uncooperative to either moderately or highly cooperative. The design was a 3 x 2, Reputation (Popular, Unpopular, No Information) x Amount of Behavior Change (Medium, Large) between-subjects design which was replicated in two different situations. Each child was asked to describe and explain what he saw in the videotape, and to indicate how much he liked the main character on several sociometric rating scales. Interview questions focused on: (a) behavior description; (b) personality description; (c) detection of behavior change; and (d) attributions for behavior.
The major finding of the research was that children's perceptions were more strongly influenced by actual behavior than by reputational information. Children were accurate in their perceptions of the amount of cooperative behavior exhibited in the videotapes, and greater amounts of cooperative behavior were significantly positively correlated with greater liking and higher ratings on the sociometric rating scales. Analyses of variance indicated that reputation had little effect on children's perceptions. Where significant effects did occur, children tended to show greater increases in liking ratings, and greater increases in the proportions of positive behavior descriptions and positive personality evaluations in the Unpopular compared with the Popular and No Information conditions.
Results concerning sociometric status of the perceiver indicated that high- and low-sociometric status children showed little difference in their perceptions of behavior change. However, on one of the measures, more low-status than high-status children gave internal attributions for uncooperative behavior. This is consistent with earlier research reporting differences between high- and low-sociometric status children in the attributions for positive and negative outcomes in interpersonal situations.
The results of the present research are discussed in terms of their implications for social skill training research with unpopular children. In general, the data suggest that children will be responsive to positive behavior change by a disliked peer.
Issue Date:1981
Description:269 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8203590
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1981

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