Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Self concept and peer acceptance in nursery school children

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  • The purpose of this paper was to study the relationship between a child's self concept and his social acceptance, following the Mead-Cooley symbolic interactionist framework. The specific objective of the study was to determine whether or not there is a relationship between the child's concept of himself and the degree to which he is accepted by his peers. The general hypothesis tested was the following: A child's self concept is related to his social acceptance among his peers in his nursery school group. The subjects were the children between the ages of four years six months to five years four months in attendance at the Orchard Street Nursery School, Oregon State University, during the spring term, 1967. Sixteen children -- nine girls and seven boys -- were studied. In order to test the hypothesis , an adaptation of Creelman's Children's Self Concept Test was used to measure self concept. The test consists of 11 sets of simple line drawing pictures of the cartoon type. The situations are those which are commonly experienced by children in the western culture and relate to the child's body image, his relations with his family, his relations with other children, and his attitudes toward certain social expectations. The children were asked to make their choices according to three criteria: (a) the one liked best and the one liked least; (b) the picture most like himself and the picture least like himself; and (c) the "good" and the "bad" one. McCandless and Marshall's picture sociometric technique was used to measure the degree to which individuals are accepted in the group, that is, peer acceptance. The children were photographed, the pictures mounted, then the children were asked to select first, second and third choices of playmates for each of three activities: outside play, listening to stories and inside play. The child's social acceptance score was the sum of the choices of the child as a playmate by all the subjects for any and all the interview situations. The ordinal data from the ranks of the children's self concept test and the picture sociometric test was analyzed by the Spearman rank-order correlation coefficient, used to measure the degree of association existing between the two ranked variables. The rank-order correlation coefficient of ρ = .03 was found between the self concept test ranks and the total peer acceptance score ranks. This was not significant and the null hypothesis that there was no relationship between self concept and peer acceptance could not be rejected. Several factors were reviewed which may have accounted for the lack of a significant relationship between self concept and peer acceptance: 1) The low coefficient of internal consistency for the self concept test may have influenced the results of the test. If the test is not as reliable as it should be, it seems reasonable to doubt the accuracy of the self concept-peer acceptance correlation. 2) It may also be possible that the children were not focusing on the intended action as they selected pictures that they liked and disliked, that were like and unlike them, and those that were good and bad. The children may have been more concerned with the details of the pictures. 3) The appropriateness of line drawings for the self concept test was questioned as influencing the results of the study. 4) It appeared that the children had a tendency to select pictures in one position. 5) Assuming that the tests were valid, it was questioned whether or not the nursery school peers are considered as "significant others". It may perhaps be too early in development for peers to be considered significant. It appeared that the children may not spend enough time together to have established attitudes and values with each other. Several research directions seem justified on the basis of this study: 1) repetition of this study with an older group. 2) testing an hypothesis concerning the relationship between the parents' self concepts and the child's self concept. 3) testing an hypothesis concerning the parent's attitude toward the child and child-rearing practices and the child's self concept.
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