Peer sociometric status and its relationship to childhood behavior disorders

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Committee Member

Dona Alpert - Committee Chair


The purpose of this study was to determine how children "at-risk" for attention problems/motor excess, anxiety/withdrawal, conduct disorders, and aggression/attention problems are perceived by their peers. Children (N = 372) from 15 public kindergarten classes were evaluated by their teachers on a widely used rating scale of childhood behavior problems (The Revised Behavior Problem checklist--RBPC; Quay & Peterson, 1987). They were selected for inclusion in this study based upon their scores on five of the six scales of the RBPC (conduct disorder, socialized aggression, attention problems, anxiety/withdrawal, and motor excess). Based upon these scores, children were identified into one of five groups. Four include "at-risk" categories (attention problems/motor excess, anxiety/withdrawal, conduct disorder, and aggression/attention problems) and one is the "not-at-risk" control group. All children were also respondents to both nomination and rating scale measures of sociometric status. From these measures two types of peer sociometric status scores were generated. The first type, based upon a combination of nomination and rating scale data, involved classifying children into one of the following peer status categories as developed by Coie, Dodge and Coppotelli (1982)--popular, rejected, neglected, controversial, and other. The second status score utilized a child's mean score on the peer rating scale measure. Sociometric status was assessed relative to a child's "at-risk" status.Children's "at-risk" behavior problem classification was found to be independent of their peer status. There were more rejected status children in the "at-risk" group when compared with the control group. No "at-risk" group sociometric rating scale score was significantly different from any other "at-risk" group scores. The control group mean score, however, was significantly higher than both the CD group and the CD/SA/AP/ME groups' mean scores. Regression analysis revealed that approximately 12% of the variance in mean sociometric rating scale scores was explained by the combination of CD and AP raw scores on the RBPC. Implications for identification and treatment of children "at-risk" for behavioral and peer difficulties are addressed.


Psychology, General

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