The activity context of preschool children's social interactions: A comparison of high and low social interactors

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The purpose of this observational study of the activity context in which preschool children engaged in positive social interactions was to produce a data source that could be used to assist in the identification of socially withdrawn children, and to select efficient training contexts in which to develop the social behavior repertoire of withdrawn youngsters. Eleven high-rate and 10 low-rate social interactors, ranging in age from 36 to 72 months, were observed for 12 10-minute sessions across a 3-month period. Six activity contexts were coded by trained observers: Observer, Isolate, Parallel, Game, Cooperative, and Fantasy. The results indicated that: (a) Low-rate children engaged in significantly more Isolate and Observer activity than did high-rate children. (b) High-rate children engaged in significantly more Cooperative and Fantasy activity than did low-rate children. (c) There were no significant differences between groups for Game and Parallel activities. Results are discussed in terms of the concurrent validity between frequency of interaction measures and the activity context data, the developmental progression of social skills acquisition, and the selection of treatment contexts for withdrawn children.

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