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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Esther Cohen

First Committee Member

Kenneth L. Beauchamp

Second Committee Member

Roger Katz


Recent research suggests that children's ability to solve interpersonal problems is related to their social adjustment. As children are continually confronted with personal and interpersonal problems which they must solve in order to maintain positive peer relations, the study and promotion of effective problem solving skills is of great importance. The aim of the present study was to assess children's responses to hypothetical problem situations as well as to assess their overt behavioral responses in a simulated problem situation. Children were classified as socially effective (well-liked) and socially ineffective (withdrawn and aggressive) on the basis of peer and teacher ratings and nominations. Children then responded to six hypothetical stories describing an interpersonal problem (three involving a peer conflict and three involving the initiation of an interaction with a peer) and participated in two simulated real-life behavioral problem situations which mirrored two of the hypothetical stories. The results suggest some correspondence between hypothetical and behavioral indices of social problem solving skill. Withdrawn males generated fewer alternatives to both hypothetical and behavioral situations, and offered more non-confrontative intention statements to peer initiation stories than did other children. In contrast, aggressive males were found to differ from other children in the proportion of aggressive intention statements offered and in the proportion of aggressive acts produced in the peer conflict situation. Suggestions for future modifications and replications of the present research are made and implications for designing intervention programs are offered.



Included in

Psychology Commons



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