Doctor of Philosophy
Arnold L. Stolberg
The use of sociometric assessment as a method for investigating the social competence of children and the prediction of future adjustment difficulties was reviewed. Recent methods used to form up to five sociometric groups (Popular, Average, Rejected, Neglected, and Controversial) were surveyed.
Various combinations of raw scores, standard deviation units, standardized scores, and binomial probability scores have been used in classification procedures. lnclusion/exclusion criteria, or cutoff scores, have been based on arbitrary statistical decisions regarding the ”extremeness" of children’s statements (positive and negative nominations) regarding their peers. These aspects of sociometric categorization result in limitations on the validity and generalizability of research in the area. The current study attempted to develop an empirically based categorization system to remedy limitations to sociometric research.
Four components made up the study. The relationship between a set of teacher-reported behavioral descriptors and continuous sociometric data was determined. Second, contingent-frequency tables for the behavioral descriptors most strongly associated with the sociometric data were developed. Third, cutting scores to maximize the behavioral homogeneity of sociometric groups were determined from this information. Finally, the efficiency of binomial scores in classifying children sociometrically was compared to that achieved by arbitrary classification schemes.
An empirically based method for sociometric categorization was developed which differed significantly from previously devised methods. Discriminant function analyses for the new method and two arbitrary methods were performed to assess the prediction of Average, Popular, and Rejected groups from parent ratings. No significant difference was found between the three methods’ ability to correctly classify cases into one of the three groups with parent ratings as predictor variables. However, two important groups (Neglected and Controversial children) were deleted from the comparison because of inadequate size. This placed an unintended limit on the validational comparison. Advantages of an empirical approach to sociometric classification and implications of the study are discussed in terms of the cognitive psychological concept of prototypes. Limitations of the current study together with possible directions for future research are presented.
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