Children's self-discrepancies and peer relationships


Children in grades 4 through 6 received an individual assessment of self-discrepancies modeled after the procedures of Higgins (1987) with adults. These self-discrepancies were compared to evaluations of peer relationships from all children in the classrooms: sociometric ratings, sociometric nominations, and peer nominations for social behaviors. In addition, Harter's (1985) multidimensional assessment of self-competence was used. Actual/Ideal and Actual/Ought self-discrepancies were positively correlated as with adults, and related to very similar patterns of peer evaluations. Self-discrepancies as measured by Higgins, and self-competence as measured by Harter, were not correlated with each other, and produced significant interactions in their associations to peer assessments. Generally, children low in both self-discrepancy and self-competence received more peer nominations for negative, social isolation behaviors than other children. Results for more positive peer evaluations were influenced by sex of child. Females with low self-competence and males, regardless of level of self-competence, who expressed high self-discrepancies, received more sociometric and sociability/leadership nominations; this pattern was reversed for high self-competence females. It appeared that self-discrepancies and self-competence represent different aspects of children's self-evaluations, with self-discrepancies having a very strong motivational component.

Publication Title

Social Cognition