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The Self in Action: An Emerging Link Between Self‐Beliefs and Behaviors in Middle Childhood

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Abstract

Abstract— For many decades, an important goal of psychological research has been to understand the link between self-beliefs and behaviors and functioning. This article considers converging evidence from diverse fields that a developmental shift in this linkage occurs in middle childhood—that, around age 8, children become more likely to use knowledge about their own selves to actively evaluate and reflect on their thoughts and behavior. This shift has implications for understanding the importance of potential age-related cognitive changes in the understanding of the self; it also has methodological implications regarding the appropriate age to collect self-evaluative data on young children.

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... The self also becomes more objective and outward focused. This newfound cognitive capacity enables youth to more fully link their attributes, including the social categories to which they belong, to how they actually feel about themselves (Davis-Kean, Jager, & Collins, 2009). ...
... Among those included in the study (n = 7,733), the amount of missing data on the psychological well-being indices was low (less than 0.1% at each Wave). In order to maximize the data and include all possible cases, we used Full Information Maximum Likelihood (FIML) estimation, a missing data algorithm available within Mplus (Muthen & Muthen, 1998-2009. ...
... The intercept factor measured initial (Wave 1) levels of psychological well-being, whereas the slope factor measured linear change in psychological well-being across Waves 1, 2, and 3. We used multiple-group analyses (Duncan, Duncan, Strycker, Li, & Alpert, 1999) to examine model differences across the four sexual orientation subgroups. All analyses were conducted within Mplus, Version 5.2 (Muthen & Muthen, 1998-2009. In order to account for Add Health's sampling design, we included a stratification variable and used a maximum likelihood estimator that is robust to the estimate of standard errors, as suggested by the administrators of Add Health when using Mplus (Chantala, 2003). ...
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... Hence, the findings from some studies suggested that the size of relations among EVT constructs increases across elementary school years (Fredricks & Eccles, 2002;Wigfield et al., 1997). Findings from more recent studies indicated that the relation between self-concept and intrinsic value increases even beyond elementary school years (Denissen et al., 2007; see also Davis-Kean, Jager, & Collins, 2009). This finding was interpreted as a "specialization process," whereby individuals develop higher levels of value beliefs in domains of their competence and vice versa. ...
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... In the same manner the teacher's reaction to learners is influenced by the learners' response toward the teacher. In this manner, the reciprocal nature of the relationship between learners and teacher and their environment or field, contributes to how and what learners think and learn about themselves (Davis-Kean, Jager, & Collins, 2009). It is therefore important to listen to how learners experience themselves within their relationship with their teachers. ...
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Within the learner–teacher relationship, learners receive messages of who they are in the eyes of the teacher and in this way their self-configuration is shaped by the interactions with their teacher. To understand their self-configuration experiences it is important that their voices be heard regarding their own experiences within their relationships with their teachers. This article focuses on learners’ self-configuration experiences within this relationship from the Gestalt field theory and Dialogical theory of self-perspectives. A qualitative case study design was followed with nine learners with mild learning difficulties. The participants were purposively selected and participated voluntary. The results showed that, when teachers spend time with learners, they ascribe meaning to themselves, feeling valued, confident and experiencing a sense of worthiness.
... Although there is evidence of the effect of prior self-concept of sports ability on subsequent sports performance in preadolescents (Marsh, Gerlach, Trautwein, L€ udtke, & Brettschneider, 2007), existing research showing the relation between self-concept and academic achievement has not focused on these links throughout schooling. Given that the changes in self-concept tend to become more stable and reliable with age (Davis- Kean, Jager, & Collins, 2009;Guay et al., 2003;Marsh et al., 1999), there is a need for studies that explore the relations between students' self-concept of achievement and their actual achievement over time, particularly during a period when students face many competing academic challenges. As students transition from childhood to adolescence, they face important decisions regarding the classes they will take (e.g., an advanced mathematics or English course), and confidence in their academic capabilities will probably impact these decisions, which, in turn, will likely factor into subsequent academic outcomes. ...
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This study examines whether self-concept of ability in math and reading predicts later math and reading attainment across different levels of achievement. Data from three large-scale longitudinal data sets, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development–Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, and Panel Study of Income Dynamics–Child Development Supplement, were used to answer this question by employing quantile regression analyses. After controlling for demographic variables, child characteristics, and early ability, the findings indicate that self-concept of ability in math and reading predicts later achievement in each respective domain across all quantile levels of achievement. These results were replicated across the three data sets representing different populations and provide robust evidence for the role of self-concept of ability in understanding achievement from early childhood to adolescence across the spectrum of performance (low to high).
... Instead, there seems to be a gradual increase in the relations across time, with early adolescents and adolescence showing the strongest relations between beliefs and behaviors. This research provides evidence for a cognitive-developmental change in how children think about themselves in relation to their own behaviors (Davis-Kean, Jager, & Collins, 2009). It also allows researchers to consider the most useful time to measure these beliefs via self-reports if the goal is predicting behavior. ...
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For decades, developmental science has been based primarily on relatively small-scale data collections with children and families. Part of the reason for the dominance of this type of data collection is the complexity of collecting cognitive and social data on infants and small children. These small data sets are limited in both power to detect differences and the demographic diversity to generalize clearly and broadly. Thus, in this chapter we will discuss the value of using existing large-scale data sets to tests the complex questions of child development and how to develop future large-scale data sets that are both representative and can answer the important questions of developmental scientists.
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Background To prepare K-12 students for the globalizing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workplace, teachers must utilize pedagogies to improve students’ 21st century skills, specifically in communication. Project Based Learning (PBL) has evidenced success in enhancing students’ communication skills, while global collaboration through virtual interactions (herein global PBL) provides unique opportunities for students to practice communication in STEM by leveraging videoconferencing and Learning Management System technologies, bridging classrooms internationally. Yet, the extent of synergistic effects of global PBL on developing students’ STEM communication skills is unknown. Purpose This study investigated if a global PBL was an effective pedagogy for enhancing and developing communication skills needed for communication and global competence in the STEM workplace, from the perceptions of both US teachers and students. Sample A mixed method study investigated the impact of global PBL in two fifth grade STEM-focused classrooms; to explore, from the perception of teachers and students, changes in students’ communication competencies. Design and methods The intervention consisted of a 3-week PBL focused on air pollution in the water cycle, where two American treatment classrooms participated in global PBL with French and Chinese students in English language classrooms through Canvas. A third American classroom (using the same PBL, but without any virtual collaboration elements) served as a control. Data sources included teacher and researcher classroom observations, a pre and post student survey, and teacher interviews. Results Results of teacher perception data and researcher observation suggested the global PBL developed students’ abilities to share and understand ideas, use multiple representations to present those ideas, and be more receptive to perspectives different than their own. Conclusion This research suggests global PBL is a meaningful strategy for K-12 teachers to develop students’ communication competencies in STEM.
Book
Die Untersuchung der Entstehung von Wertorientierungen bei Kindern stellt in der soziologischen Forschung ein Nischenthema dar. In der Sozial- und Persönlich-keitspsychologie existiert zu diesem Gebiet dagegen ein dynamisches Forschungs-feld. Allerdings zeigt die psychologische Werteforschung zwei Mankos. Die Wertestrukturen von Kindern werden hier meist querschnittlich untersucht, was keine Erkenntnisse über ihre Entwicklung im Zeitverlauf zulässt. Dazu vernachlässigt die psychologische Forschung die soziale Bedingtheit der Werteentstehung bei Kindern. Die vorliegende Arbeit schließt diese Forschungslücken und versucht somit eine soziologische Wiedereinbettung der Werteforschung in der Kindheit. Hierfür werden in einer Stichprobe von Kindern in der ersten und zweiten Klasse Wertepräferenzen über Selbstauskunftsverfahren erhoben. In einem ersten Schritt werden die vorliegenden Wertestrukturen identifiziert. In einem nächsten Schritt wird die Entwicklung der Wertestruktur von der ersten zur zweiten Klasse längsschnittlich untersucht. Im letzten Teil der Arbeit wird der Einfluss familiärer Struktur- und Prozessmerkmale auf die Wertorientierungen und Wertestruktur der Kinder überprüft. Die Ergebnisse der Analysen zeigen bereits in der ersten Klasse eine plausible Wertestruktur. Sie beruht auf einer Grunddifferenzierung in individualistische und kollektivistische Werte. Während sich in der ersten Klasse nur für den kollektivistischen Wertebereich Substrukturen nachweisen lassen, zeigen sich in der zweiten Klasse auch im Bereich der individualistischen Werte Ausdifferenzierungen. Unter den familiären Bedingungen lassen sich besonders für den sozioökonomischen Status der Eltern, ihre religiösen Wertorientierungen wie auch ihren Erziehungsstil Einflüsse auf die Wertorientierungen der Kinder nachweisen. Die Erklärung der Strukturen von Wertorientierungen bei Kindern, ihrer Entwicklung und der familiä-ren Einflüsse bezieht theoretische Ansätze aus der Bedürfnisforschung, der Entwicklungspsychologie und der ungleichheitsorientierten Sozialisationsforschung mit ein.
Thesis
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Die Untersuchung der Entstehung von Wertorientierungen bei Kindern stellt in der soziologischen Forschung ein Nischenthema dar. In der Sozial- und Persönlichkeitspsychologie existiert zu diesem Gebiet dagegen ein dynamisches Forschungsfeld. Allerdings zeigt die psychologische Werteforschung zwei Mankos. Die Wertestrukturen von Kindern werden hier querschnittlich untersucht, was keine Erkenntnisse über ihre Entwicklung im Zeitverlauf zulässt. Dazu vernachlässigt die psychologische Forschung die soziale Bedingtheit der Werteentstehung bei Kindern. Die vorliegende Arbeit schließt diese Forschungslücken und versucht somit eine soziologische Wiedereinbettung der Werteforschung in der Kindheit. Hierfür werden in einer Stichprobe von 249 Kindern in der ersten und zweiten Klasse Wertepräferenzen über Selbstauskunftsverfahren erhoben. In einem ersten Schritt werden über explorative Analysen die vorliegenden Wertestrukturen identifiziert. Über Strukturgleichungsmodelle wird in einem nächsten Schritt die Entwicklung der Wertestruktur von der ersten zur zweiten Klasse längsschnittlich untersucht. Im letzten Teil der Arbeit wird der Einfluss familiärer Struktur- und Prozessmerkmale auf die Wertorientierungen und Wertestruktur der Kinder überprüft. Die Ergebnisse der Analysen zeigen bereits in der ersten Klasse eine plausible Wertestruktur. Sie beruht auf einer Grunddifferenzierung in individualistische und kollektivistische Werte. Während sich in der ersten Klasse nur für den kollektivistischen Wertebereich Substrukturen nachweisen lassen, zeigen sich in der zweiten Klasse auch im Bereich der individualistischen Werte Ausdifferenzierungen. Unter den familiären Bedingungen lassen sich besonders für den sozioökonomischen Status der Eltern, ihre religiösen Wertorientierungen wie auch ihren Erziehungsstil Einflüsse auf die Wertorientierungen und Wertestruktur der Kinder nachweisen. Eine Erklärung der Struktur von Wertorientierungen bei Kindern, ihrer Entwicklung und der familiären Einflüsse bezieht theoretische Ansätze aus der Bedürfnisforschung, der Entwicklungspsychologie und der Sozialisationsforschung mit ein. ____________________________________________________________________________________ Value orientations in children during the first years in school. An empirical study of structures, developments and familial determinants. .................................................................................................................................................. The study of the formation of value orientations in children represents a niche topic in sociological research. In social and personality psychology, in contrast, there is a dynamic field of research referring to this matter. However, psychological research on values displays two shortcomings. Here, the value structure of children is examined cross-sectionally, which does not provide any information on its development over time. In addition, psychological research neglects the social conditionality of the development of value orientations in children. The present work closes these research gaps and thus tries to re-embed value research in childhood into a sociological context. Therefore, ratings of value preferences are collected via self-assessment procedures in a sample of 249 children in first and second grade. In a first step, the detectable value structures are identified through exploratory analyses. Subsequently, the development of the value structure from first to second grade is investigated longitudinally by means of structural equation modeling. The last section of the study examines the influence of structural and process characteristics of the family on the value orientations and value structure of children. The results of the analyses show a plausible value structure as early as in first grade. It is based on a fundamental differentiation between individualistic and collectivistic values. While in first grade substructures can only be identified for the collectivistic range of values, in second grade differentiations become also apparent in the area of individualistic values. Amongst family conditions, primarily parents’ socioeconomic status, their religious value orientations as well as their parenting style exert an influence on the value orientations and value structure of children. In order to explain the structure of value orientations in children, their development and familial influences, theoretical approaches from research on needs, developmental psychology and socialization research are considered.
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The rate of depression rises overall between childhood and adolescence, and by early adulthood depression is twice as common in women as in men. However, study results are conflicting as to the relative rates of depression in prepubertal boys and girls, and it is not clear whether the rates in adolescent boys rise, fall, or remain steady. It is also uncertain when in adolescence the female preponderance emerges. A number of studies point to effects of the biological developments of puberty as having an important place in these changes. From a developmental point of view, the fact that the hormonal and physical changes of puberty differ in boys and girls, mean that a “biological explanation” fits in well with the gender differentiation in rates of depression across puberty. In a sample of 3,519 8–16-year-old psychiatric patients, both boys and girls shared increasing levels of depression across this age range, but the rate of increase was faster in girls. There was no difference in the rates of depression between boys and girls before the age of 11, but by the age of 16 girls were twice as likely as boys to have significant depressive symptomatology. When age was controlled for, pubertal status had no effect on depression scores. Thus, these results did not support the idea that the biological changes of puberty are a primary motive force in producing the changes in the sex ratio in depression in adolescence. Therefore, further research on this topic needs not only to address the etiology of depression in young people, but also to search for etiologic factors with differential distributions or effects on boys and girls.
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The objective of this study was to synthesize information from literature on measures of the self in young children to create an empirical framework for developing future methods for measuring this construct. For this meta-analysis, all available preschool and early elementary school self-esteem studies were reviewed. Reliability was used as the criterion variable and the predictor variables represented different aspects of methodology that are used in testing an instrument: study characteristics, method characteristics, subject characteristics, measure characteristics, and measure design characteristics. Using information from two analyses, the results indicate that the reliability of self-esteem measures for young children can be predicted by the setting of the study, number of items in the scale, the age of the children being studied, the method of data collection (questionnaires or pictures), and the socioeconomic status of the children. Age and number of items were found to be critical features in the development of reliable measures for young children. Future studies need to focus on the issues of age and developmental limitations on the complicated problem of how young children actually think about the self and what methods and techniques can aid in gathering this information more accurately.
Article
2 groups of 5–8-year-olds were examined in an effort to explore the developing relations between false belief understanding and an awareness of the individualized nature of personal taste, on the one hand, and, on the other, a maturing grasp of the interpretive character of the knowing process. In Study 1, 20 children between 5 and 8 all behaved in accordance with hypotheses by proving to be indistinguishable in their already good grasp of the possibility of false beliefs and in their common assumption that differences of opinion concerning matters of taste are legitimate expressions of personal preferences. By contrast, only the 7- and 8-year-old children gave evidence of recognizing that ambiguous stimuli especially allow for warrantable differences of interpretation. Study 2 replicated and extended these findings with a group of 48 5-8-year-old subjects, again showing that while 5-year-olds easily pass a standard test of false belief understanding, only children of 7 or 8 ordinarily evidence an appreciation of the interpretive character of the knowing process.
Article
Our understanding regarding how social statuses interact with one another to impact psychological well-being is limited, and most available research typically ignores issues of development while focusing on the cross-section. In the aim of increasing our understanding on this matter, a developmental model was formulated – The Social Status/Vulnerable Period (SS/VP) model – that takes into account (1) when over the lifespan each social status typically impacts growth of well-being, (2) what proximal developmental changes underlie the timing of that impact, and (3) how distal factors moderate the impact of those proximal developmental changes. By exploring how race and sex status interact to impact psychological well-being across adolescence and early adulthood, the validity of the SS/VP model was examined. Using data from the Maryland Adolescent Growth in Context (MADICS) study (PI’s: J. Eccles & A. Sameroff) - a five-wave longitudinal study consisting of around 1,600 participants - a series of growth models and structural equation models were tested. During early adulthood, relative to European Americans, levels of depressive affect appear to be increasing among African Americans, and the differential growth across race was largely attributed to the differential impact of non-college attendance across the two races. Moreover, distal factors such as adolescent levels of social support, family income, and perceived discrimination all served to dampen this effect. In addition, the SS/VP model posits that two at-risk social statuses will compound (i.e. individuals with both at-risk statuses show especially low levels of psychological well-being) only if the two at-risk social statuses impact well-being during the same period of development. Consistent with the SS/VP model, findings suggest that the impact of European American and female status, which are both associated with deficits in psychological well-being during early adolescence, compound such that those individuals with both at-risk statuses show especially low levels of psychological well-being, and, this effect appears to manifest during early adolescence. Highlighting the need for a lifespan approach, it appears that the particular racial group at-risk for psychological well-being depends on the developmental period of focus. The implications of these findings for the SS/VP model and future directions for research are discussed. Ph.D. Psychology University of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/57680/2/jagerj_1.pdf
Article
Many social science theories that examine the connection between beliefs and behaviors assume that belief constructs will predict behaviors similarly across development. Converging research implies that this assumption may not be tenable across all ages or all belief constructs. Thus, to test this implication, the relation between behavior and beliefs about the self was examined in 2 independent data sets with 2 different constructs: aggression and achievement. The respondents were 6 ??? 18 years of age and predominately Caucasian. Results using quasisimplex structural equation models suggest that self-beliefs become more strongly related to behavior as children grow older independent of the reliability of the measures used. Possible limitations in the use of self-report methodology with young children are discussed.
Article
Research on racial comparisons of self-esteem was examined. Early research in this area, exemplified by the doll studies of racial preference, was viewed as demonstrating that Blacks have less self-regard than Whites. However, a meta-analytic synthesis of 261 comparisons, based largely on self-esteem scales and involving more than half a million respondents, revealed higher scores for Black than for White children, adolescents, and young adults. This analysis further revealed that the direction and magnitude of racial differences are influenced by such demographic characteristics as participant age and socioeconomic status, as well as by characteristics of the measuring instruments. Many findings--for example, that the self-esteem advantage for Black respondents increases with age and is related to the sex composition of the sample--underscore the need for long-term longitudinal studies of self-esteem development in male and female members of both racial groups.
Developing dualism: From intuitive understanding to transcendental ideas
  • H M Wellman
  • C J Johnson
Wellman, H. M., & Johnson, C. J. (2008). Developing dualism: From intuitive understanding to transcendental ideas. In A. Antonietti, A. Corradini, & E. J. Lowe (Eds.), Psycho-physical dualism today: An interdisciplinary approach (pp. 3-36). Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Changes in the relation of beliefs and behaviors during middle childhood
  • P E Davis-Kean
  • L R Huesmann
  • J Jager
  • W A Collins
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  • J Lansford
Davis-Kean, P. E., Huesmann, L. R., Jager, J., Collins, W. A., Bates, J. E., & Lansford, J. (2008). Changes in the relation of beliefs and behaviors during middle childhood. Child Development, 79, 1257-1269.
A meta-analysis for preschool self-concept measures: A framework for future measures
  • Davis-Kean
Davis-Kean, P. E., & Sandler, H. M. (2001). A meta-analysis for preschool self-concept measures: A framework for future measures. Child Development, 72, 887-906.
Changes in the relation of beliefs and behaviors during middle childhood
  • Davis-Kean