Temperament, cognition, social skills, and play in young children

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Mucha, Lynn Scott
Gridley, Betty E.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of Educational Psychology
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the nature of the relations among temperament, cognition, social skills, and social and cognitive levels of play in 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old preschool children. Subjects were 126 preschool boys (n=67) and girls (n=59) selected from two community child care programs in north-central Indiana. The mean age of the preschoolers was 56 months. Information about temperament and social skills was obtained from preschoolteachers using the Temperament Assessment Battery for Children (Martin, 1988) and Social Skills Rating System (Gresham & Elliott, 1990). Preschoolers' cognition was measured by the Bracken Basic Concept Scale (Bracken, 1984) and play styles were obtained through systematic observation of free play using the Smilansky/Parten play matrix. Factor analysis of the TABC subtests, BBCS scores, SSRS scores, and play category observations revealed four unique factors. Among the four factors, a mastery motivation factor emerged as well as did an impulsivity factor. Salient loadings of these two factors were primarily a combination of TABC subtests, SSRS scores, and BBCS scores. Play styles formed their own factors with both cognitive play levels and social play levels defining separate and unique factors. Results and implications of these findings are discussed as they relate to previous research and future directions for study.