The relationship between the self-concept and social interaction of four-year-old children attending day care centers

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Kilgore, Danny Lee
Beeson, Betty J.
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The purpose of this study was to further investigate the relationship between the social interaction during indoor free play and the self-concept of four-year-old children of middle socioeconomic status who attended day care centers.From the three centers involved in the study, a total of fifty-nine children qualified as subjects, with reference to age, parental permission, and socioeconomic status. Subjects were eliminated from the study if they were absent during ten or more observations; this accounted for the loss of eleven subjects. Withdrawals from centers accounted for an additional loss of three subjects. Complete data were collected for a total of forty-five subjects. The mean age of the twenty-three males and twenty-two females was fifty-four months.Two instruments were used to collect data. The Parten Gradient of Social Participation was used to assess social interaction; each level was characterized by social interaction.The gradient consisted of six levels of observable play behaviors, and each level was assigned a score. Three research assistants were trained in the use of the gradient. Each subject was observed by one of the assistants for one interval of one-minute duration on consecutive school days until a total of twenty observations had been made. After all observations were completed, the total social interaction score was computed for each subject. Then all total scores were rank ordered and the middle three scores were removed to establish a median split. Subjects whose scores were above the median were classified as interactive, and subjects whose scores were below the median were classified as non-interactive.The Children's Self-Social Constructs Test was used to assess self-concept. This instrument yielded four sub-scores: (1) self-esteem; (2) social interest; (3) identification with significant others; and (4) realism for size.Two null hypotheses were tested at the .05 level of significance. The major hypothesis stated that there is no difference in the mean scores obtained on the self-concept test by the group of interactive children and the group of non-interactive children. The other hypothesis stated that there is no difference in the mean scores obtained on the self-concept test by males and females; this hypothesis was formed to allow for the removal of variance due to sex. Data were analyzed with a computer program of a two-way multivariate analysis of variance. Neither null hypothesis was rejected.The following conclusions were drawn from the study: (1) the mean self-concept scores of the interactive and non-interactive children did not differ significantly; (2) the mean self-concept scores of males and females did not differ significantly; and (3) theories stating that persons with poor self-concepts avoid social interaction are inapplicable to preschool children.