The relation between social behavior and social goals/motivation for high status children
Quintrell, Elisabeth Anne
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The aim of the current study was to build on past research to determine whether goals predict social behavior for high status children and the mean differences in levels of specific goals/motivations among high status groups. Our study was able to examine these variables with a new perspective with the inclusion of multiple forms of aggression (verbal social, nonverbal social, and overt) as well as prosocial behavior, and two similar but distinct scales of social goals (Affective/Instrumental) and social motivations (Need to Belong/Need to Dominate). Participants consisted of 473 4th and 5th graders (52% girls; mean age 11.08 years; 54% White, 43% African American/Black, and 3% Other) in a rural school district in the Southeastern United States. Participants completed peer and self-nominated measures on social status, social behavior, and social goals. Analyses were conducted by gender. Contrary to expectations, high status groups did not differ on social goals and social motivations. Results indicated that the effect of goals were not as strong once status group was known. Affective goals appear to matter more for girls, especially in the case of overt aggression and prosocial behaviors, yet neither Instrumental nor Affective friendship goals predicted social behaviors for boys. A Need to Dominate was found to be a significant predictor of three types of aggression for high status boys, and verbal social aggression and prosocial behavior for high status girls. Need to Belong negatively predicted overt aggression for girls. Our study suggests that among high status groups, friendship goals are most predictive of behavior for girls, even after knowing the specific status group to which a high status child belongs. Dominance motivation, however, is a powerful predictor of social behavior for high status children of both genders.