Open Access Thesis
Date of Award
Christopher J. Trentacosta
There is substantial evidence in the literature focusing on the effects a child's social competence can have on future school success (Bulotsky-Shearer, Dominguez, Bell, Rouse, & Fantuzzo, 2010; Krishnakumar & Black, 2002; Foster, Lambert, Abbott-Shim, McCarty, & Franze, 2005). However, less research has been conducted specifically on the effects of exposure to risk on a child's social competence, and which factors may protect them from the negative effects of the presence of various risk factors. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the extent to which the accumulation of contextual risk factors influences social competence, and role that parent and family relationship factors play in predicting social competence and attenuating the relationship between cumulative contextual risk and low social competence. It was expected that higher levels of risk would predict lower social competence and that greater attachment security and positive parental emotional expressivity would predict higher social competence. Additionally, it was expected that attachment security and positive parental emotional expressivity would moderate the relationship between cumulative risk and social competence.
Data on children's social competence was collected at three time points, and parents/guardians were asked to participate in an interview that included demographic questionnaires and an audio-taped story-telling task (N=73). The story-telling task was coded for both attachment security and positive emotion word use. Multiple regression and hierarchical linear regressions were used to conduct statistical analyses. Cumulative risk was not a significant predictor of attachment security, after controlling for child age, gender, and PPVT score. Additionally, while attachment security significantly predicted social competence at Time 2, this relationship was not observed at Time 3, nor was a main effect of positive parental emotional expressivity observed at Time 2 or 3. Finally, higher levels of attachment security and positive parental emotional expressivity did not moderate the relationship between cumulative risk and social competence. This study showed partial support for the influence of attachment security on a child's social competence, and demonstrates a need for future research on this topic.
Mclear, Caitlin Marie, "Cumulative Risk, Parental Emotional Expressivity, And Parental Secure Base As Predictors Of Children's Social Competence" (2013). Wayne State University Theses. 238.