The association between children's temperament, social goal orientation, social behavior, and social status: a two-study examination
Quintrell, Elisabeth Anne
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Study 1: Some children who are rejected withdraw, whereas other children aggress towards their peers or display other disrupting externalizing behaviors (Rose-Krasnor, 2014 for review). Research has established that these two behaviors are associated with peer rejection; thus, understanding risk factors to these behavioral outcomes is beneficial for developing peer rejection interventions. Research suggests that both temperament and social goals are risk factors for these problem social behaviors (Rubin et al, 1990; Ojanen et al, 2014). Our study sought to determine whether temperament and social goals are predictive of these social behaviors and, whether including both temperament and social goals in analyses aids in predicting the specific type of aggressive behavior. Our results indicated that proactive and reactive aggression and social withdrawal can be predicted by temperament and social goals. Both social goal orientations and temperament aided in predicting which type of social aggression was exhibited: instrumental social goals were a significant predictor of proactive aggression, while affective/ instrumental social goals were not significant predictors of reactive aggression. Lastly, negative affect (chained with high impulsivity) acted as a general risk factor for all problem outcome behaviors. Study 2: Studies suggest that the pathway to peer acceptance and/or peer rejection includes multiple factors, including personality/temperamental traits and skilled social behavior (Panak & Garber, 1992; Asher & Coie, 1990). One factor that influences the production of skilled behavior is a child’s social goals, which, in turn, affect the pathway to social acceptance. The present study sought to determine whether social goals moderate the relationship between temperamental traits and social preference in a sample that included children in late childhood. We found that instrumental social goals did not have a significant moderating effect on the relationship between temperamental traits and social acceptance. However, affective social goals were significant moderators for certain temperamental traits. Higher affective social goals moderated the relationship between low inhibition and social preference positively. The relationships between high inhibition and social preference and negative affect and social preference were moderated negatively by affective social goals. Implications for social goal intervention implementation within programs like SEL and PBIS are discussed.
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