Facets of Social Interaction and the Assessment of Social Competence in Children

  • Kenneth A. Dodge


The number of definitions of social competence in the developmental literature today approaches the number of investigators in the field. Certainly, most definitions have in common several features, such as a child’s response to an environmental stimulus and an emphasis on social effectiveness. These definitions, however, have emphasized different facets or aspects of social interaction. One theorist may emphasize specific behaviors, such as assertion (Bornstein, Bellack, & Hersen, 1977) and frequency of interaction (Furman, Rahe, & Hartup, 1979), whereas another theorist may emphasize a child’s self-concept (Harter, 1982), and still another may emphasize cognitive skills (Gottman, Gonso, & Rasmussen, 1975). These differences are not trivial, for they lead researchers to measure competence in highly divergent ways, and they lead clinicians to intervene with divergent goals in mind. While theorists could debate which of each of these approaches “truly” constitutes a study of social competence, it is probably more fruitful to recognize that each of these facets represents a component of social interaction and that each facet is relevant to understanding competence. How these components are relevant must be articulated. What is needed at this time is a scheme or model of the various components of social interaction, which could lead to hypotheses concerning the manner in which various aspects of social interaction are related to each other.


Social Interaction Child Development Social Competence Apply Behavior Analysis Social Information Processing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1985

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  • Kenneth A. Dodge

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