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   2011, Vol. 43 Issue (12) : 1388-1397     DOI:
The Development of Social Competence during Early Childhood: A Latent Growth Model
(1 School of Psychology, Beijing Key Lab of Applied Experimental Psychology, Beijing Normal University, 100875 Beijing, China)
(2 Finnish Center of Excellence in Learning and Motivation Research, University of Jyväskylä, 40014, Finland)
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Abstract  Social competence is an important aspect of children’s social adjustment, which has been recognized by a majority of developmental psychologists. Much research has been accumulated investigating the developmental dynamics of social competence. Relatively few studies, however, have examined the latent growth of social competence, particularly during early childhood. In addition, existing research on the development of social competence points to child temperament and family socioeconomic status as important predictors; however, the majority of longitudinal research has included just two time points. The present study sought to advance our current understanding of social competence by examining its growth during early childhood. A second goal was to investigate the additive and interactive effects of child temperament, gender, and maternal education on initial levels and growth in social competence.
A sample of 119 preschoolers and their mothers was followed up for two years from preschool entry to the end of the second preschool year. Children’s social competence was evaluated by their mothers for three times, first at three months after preschool entry, second at the end of the first preschool year, and finally, at the end of the second preschool year. Children’s temperament and socio-demographic information were also collected at the first wave. Latent growth modeling was used to examine children’s initial levels and growth in social competence and the predictions of initial levels and growth from child temperament, gender, and maternal education.
Results showed that children’s social competence increased linearly during the follow-up period. Significant variability in the initial levels and growth was also found. Girls had higher initial levels of social competence than boys did. Children whose mothers had more education had stronger social competence than their peers whose mothers had less education. Growth in social competence was predicted significantly by the interaction between temperamental rhythmicity and gender.
These findings highlight the importance of examining latent growth in children’s social competence during early childhood. They also expand the existing research on temperament and social competence by testing interactive effects on latent growth.
Keywords social competence      latent growth model      temperament      mother education      gender difference     
Corresponding Authors: ZHANG Xiao   
Issue Date: 30 December 2011
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ZHANG Xiao. The Development of Social Competence during Early Childhood: A Latent Growth Model [J]. , 2011, 43(12): 1388-1397.
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