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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Graduate School

First Advisor

Esther A. Cohen


A number of studies have investigated the factors that lead to peer acceptance in children. Particularly, the problem-solving skills of accepted and unaccepted children have been examined, with differences being substantiated. The present study investigated the possibility that problem-solving skill differences may be attributed to varying self-efficacy levels in children. Further, the communication styles of parents of high vs. low self-efficacy children were examined by observing parent/child interactions in a problem-solving situation. The results indicated that children did not differ in their ability to identify effective solutions to problems; rather, they did differ in their perceived ability to engage in effective solutions, with high self-efficacy children choosing more appropriate solutions as those that they would actually enact. Low self-efficacy children, on the other hand, chose less appropriate solutions as those that they would engage in. Finally, it was discovered that parents of high self-efficacy children utilized more positive types of messages (praise and modeling) than did those parents of low self-efficacy children. Low self-efficacy children had parents who utilized more controlling and negative types of communication styles. This study supports the motion that parents may be a significant contributing factor in the development of their child’s self-efficacy, which in turn affects the social problem-solving skills of children.





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