Perspective -taking, social competence, gender, and prosocial behavior of suburban preschool children

Laura Jean Lupinetti, Fordham University

Abstract

In this study, it was hypothesized that affective perspective-taking and self-perceived social competence would have causal effects on 4-year-old children's prosocial behavior. Further, it was hypothesized that increased affective perspective-taking would cause an increase in the perception of self as socially competent. Finally, gender would have causal effects on affective perspective-taking, self-perceived social competence, and prosocial behavior. ^ The population sampled was 80 preschool children (41 girls and 39 boys) between the ages of 48 months through 59 months, who attended three suburban preschools. The children were given an affective labeling and perspective-taking task (Denham, 1986), within which four structured prosocial tasks were embedded. They were also given the Pictorial Scale of Perceived Competence and Social Acceptance for Young Children (Harter & Pike, 1984) and teachers were asked to evaluate the children's prosocial behavior through the Prosocial Behavior Questionnaire (Weir & Duveen, 1981). ^ Three path analyses (e.g., boys, girls, and total group) were conducted to demonstrate a unidirectional, causal relationship between the independent variables of gender, affective perspective-taking, self-perceived social competence, and the dependent variable of prosocial behavior. The results indicated that affective perspective-taking had a strong direct effect on prosocial behavior for girls. In addition, gender showed a direct effect upon prosocial behavior. However, the results also revealed that gender did not have a direct effect upon affective perspective-taking. Furthermore, the results indicated that for boys affective perspective-taking had a direct effect upon self-perceived social competence and self-perceived social competence showed a significant direct effect upon prosocial behavior. ^ The findings both support and differ from the current research literature. Further support was found for studies implicating affective perspective-taking as a predictor of prosocial behavior and that the ability is not gender related. It was not expected, however, that gender differences would impact upon the relationship between affective perspective-taking and self-perceived social competence. ^ Possible explanations for these gender differences are discussed. Implications for educational practices and directions for future research are offered. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Developmental

Recommended Citation

Lupinetti, Laura Jean, "Perspective -taking, social competence, gender, and prosocial behavior of suburban preschool children" (1999). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9960949.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9960949

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