First Advisor

Cathleen L. Smith

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology






Social perception in children, Social interaction in children, Mentally ill children



Physical Description

1 online resource (114 p.)


The present study examined the relationship between the cognitive skill of role-or perspective-taking and naturally occurring behavior of behaviorally disordered children. Twenty-six boys, aged five years, nine months to twelve years, two months were tested and observed at their treatment facility. It was predicted that children who could take the perspective of others would prefer peer to adult interaction, would more likely give positive attention to their peers and would be more likely to use effective language than their non perspective-taking peers. These and related hypotheses were examined by observing each participant's interactive behavior for 36 minutes distributed over three different settings, lunch, freetime and organized activity on six or more different days. To determine perspective-taking skill, two perspective taking instruments were administered in a separate room at the treatment site. One measure (the Chandler role-taking task) required a child to tell a story from a series of three cartoon pictures and then retell the story from the point of view of a late arriving bystander. The other task (the Friendship interview from the Selman Measure of Interpersonal Understanding) assessed role-taking on the basis of the child's responses to questions about a filmstrip story that depicted a common dilemma between close friends. The variety and frequency of effective words was assessed by counting the effective words used by the child when responding to the first role-taking task, the cartoon stories. A vocabulary test was administered at the same time as the other cognitive measures. Before data analysis began, such methodological concerns as reliability of the observational code, reliability of the judges' scoring of the role-taking tasks and internal consistency of the measures were addressed. Cognitive measures, use of effective language and behavioral categories were then correlated with each other. The vocabulary test was used to partial general verbal skill from the relationship of role-taking and effective language. In addition to examining relationships among the measures, the children were divided into perspective-taking and non perspective-taking groups and compared on the various behavioral and language measures.


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