Group Title: development of children's understanding of social anxiety in others
Title: The development of children's understanding of social anxiety in others
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Title: The development of children's understanding of social anxiety in others
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Darby, Bruce Warren, 1952-
Copyright Date: 1983
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Bibliographic ID: UF00102801
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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Resource Identifier: ltuf - ACN0724
oclc - 11557209

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I wish to thank all those whose assistance made this

project possible. First, I would like to thank Dr. Barry

Schlenker, committee chairman, whose intellectual power,

patience, and friendship were indispensable. Also, I would

like to thank the special support of my ether committee

members: Drs. Larry Severy, Marvin Shaw, Patricia Miller,

and James Alqina. In addition, I would like to thank the

experimenters who helped gather the data: Bonnie Bicks,

Carl Dahlstrom, Lisa Slotoroff, Tammy Maurno, Suzanne Savin,

Marcia Weider, Leslye Henenfeld, and Dalia Stein. Very

special thanks qo to Terry LaDue, whose expertise in

technical matters is unsurpassed and delightful.

I would most especially like to thank my parents, Homer

and Shirley Darby, for their unflaqqing support in all my

endeavors. Also, thanks go to Dennis Swaney, Starr Silver,

Cindy Davis, and Howard Bavender who blew the bounds off

moral support, and a humble bow of gratitude for the love of

my friends, Karin, Jill, Louise, Dave, Gail, Terry, John,

Phil, Jerry, Dennis M., Mike, Tom, and Frank.



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . . ii

ABSTRACT . . . . . v. . . . .


I. INTBODUCTION .. . . . . . ... 1

The Self, Self-presentation, and Social Anxiety
Symbolic interactionism and the "self" in

social behavior
Self-presentation and social anxie

Behaviors and Social Anxiety .
Situations and Social Anxiety
Summary . . .
Social-cognitive DevelopFent ..
Introduction . . .. . .
Social-coqnitive abilities . .
Children and self-presentation
Anxiety and children . . .
Overview and hypotheses . .

II. METHOD . . . . . ..

Subjects .. . ...... ...
Procedure . . . .

III. RESULTS . . . . . . .

Manipulation Checks .
Motivation Manipulation .
Ability Manipulation .
Analysis of Questionnaire
Measures of Anxiety . .
Worry . . . .
Uneasiness . . .
Nervousness . .
Confidence . . .
Behavioral Measures .
Evaluation of Actors .
Shyness . . .

* e *
ty .

* . .
* . .

* . .

. . .
. . .
. .
. .
. .
. .

. . S .

. . . .

. . . .
S . . o

S . .
S . . .
S o . .
S . . .

. . .
S . . .
. o .
S . . .



. . . 77

. . 77
. . 78

. . . 86

. 87
. 87
. 90
. 91
. 91
. 91
. 95
. 96
. 100
. 105
. 113
. 113

r r
r r
r r
r r
r r
r r
r r
r r
r r

Liking . . . . . . . . 114
Good/Bad, Happy/Sad, Stronq/Weak . . 115
Subjects' self-ratings . . . . .. 118
Relationships Among Measures .. . . . 119

IV. DISCUSSION . . . . . . . . . 122

Overview . . . . . . . . 122
Actors' Motivation and Ability . . .. . 125
Contingent versus Noncontinqent Interactions 132
The Effects of Grade . . . . . 134
Measures of Affect and Behavior and their
Relationship . . . . . .. 138
Summary . . . . . . . 140





REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . 152


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Bruce Warren Darby

August 1983

Chairman: Dr. Barry R. Schlenker
Major Department: Psychology

A model of social anxiety was used to assess the

development of children's understanding of social anxiety in

others. The model proposes that actors who are highly

motivated to impress another but doubt their chances for

successfully doing so experience the aversive state of

social anxiety. Theories and research on social cognitive

development were used to hypothesize that older rather than

younger children would more readily recognize the effects of

these antecedent conditions. Also, it was predicted that

older children more than younger children would demonstrate

a more thorough understanding of the affective and

behavioral components of social anxiety.

A study was conducted in which second, fourth, and

seventh grade children were presented stories depicting

actors in two situations: making a friend or acting in a

play. Within each situation the actor was portrayed as

either highly motivated or less motivated to impress an

audience and either with high or low expectations of

success. Subjects rated actors in these conditions as to

how anxious the actors felt, what kinds of behaviors the

actors may perform, and on general evaluative dimensions.

Consistent support was found for the model in showing highly

motivated and less able actors rated as being very socially

anxious. Also, results supported the general hypothesis

that older children judged actors in social anxiety settings

in ways consistent with the model. Support was qualified,

however, by a number of findings suggesting overall

pessimism of older children, regardless of the actor's

particular condition. Evidence was obtained which indicated

older children's more sophisticated understanding of the

possible divergence in self-presentation situations between

what one feels and how one behaves,


This research was designed to assess the nature and

development of children's understanding of social anxiety in

others. Being anxious or nervous in the presence of others

is something everyone has experienced. The ways people

present themselves in social interaction affect their

outcomes in these settings: everyone wants to obtain a

desirable reaction from subjectively important audiences.

People who find themselves wanting to obtain a certain

audience evaluation but fear they might not succeed

experience the discomfort of social anxiety. This research

looks at how second, fourth, and seventh grade children

evaluated people portrayed in social anxiety situations.

How, for example, do younger versus older children differ in

their understanding of a story character's motivation to

obtain a desired reaction from an audience and how the

character's motivation affects his or her feelings and

behavior? How do children of different ages understand the

ways people present themselves in social settings?

In order to answer these and other questions, theory and

research on social anxiety as a self-presentational concern

are used as a backdrop for assessing children's

understanding of the phenomenon. There is very little

existing research on how children recognize self-

presentational concerns in others, and the use of the self-

presentation approach here will provide a clearer

understanding of how this recognition develops. In addition

to the social psychological perspective of the self-

presentation approach, theories and research on social-

cognitive development are used to articulate the progression

of children's understanding of social behavior,

particularly, the development of children's knowledge of the

position of the self in social interaction.

Social anxiety is defined as "anxiety resulting from the

prospect or presence of personal evaluation in real or

imagined social situations" (Schlerker 6 Leary, 1982, p.

642). As such, the study of social anxiety is a useful tool

for investigating children's understanding of the relation

between the public and private worlds of the self, because

it represents one possible response to coming into contact

with pressures from the social environment. Children's

knowledge of social scenarios that evoke concerns over self-

referent behavior in interactions is presumed to develop

throughout childhood, concurrently with other social-

cognitive skills, such as role-taking, making social

inferences, solving interpersonal problems, and becoming

aware of the social nature of the self. It was expected

that younger children (second graders) would make less

articulate and consistent judgments than older children

(fourth and seventh graders) about the variables affecting

social anxiety in story characters who are shown either with

or without concerns about the impressions they make on


In the first of the following sections, social behavior

is discussed from the theoretical perspectives of symbolic

interactionism, social learning theory, script theory, and

self-presentation. Particular prominence is given to the

relationship between the self and the social environment

from these perspectives. In addition, specific definitions

and propositions of the self-presentation approach to the

study of social anxiety are covered, followed by a

discussion of relevant theories and research on social-

cognitive development. Finally, an overview is presented

including the specific hypotheses to be tested.

The Self, Self-presentation, and Social Anxiet

Syabojc iJnteractioni s and the "sel" in social behavior

There are many approaches to studying social behavior.

It can be viewed, for example, as (1) the result of a

resolution of conflicts between inner wishes and outer

realities (Sulloway, 1979), (2) the result of operant

conditioning whereby humans respond to social cues with

behavior that has been successful in the past (Skinner,

1976), (3) the result of human evolution (Freedman, 1979;

Hoqan, in press; Wilson, 1975), (4) the result of self-

reflection, expectation of outcome, and self-regulation

based on past reinforcement contingencies (Bandura, 1977),

or (5) the result of one's knowledge about various social

situations and the invocation of social scripts or meaning

to quide social behavior (Abelson, 1976; Lanqer, 1978;

Meltzer, Petras, & Reynolds, 1975). There is probably no

possible or, at the very least, easy way to determine which

of these perspectives on social behavior is the most

comprehensive and valid; all seem useful up to a point.

However, because the focus of the current research is on the

position and influence of the self in social interaction,

the last two perspectives become particularly relevant.

Social learning theory (for example, Bandura, 1977)

embraces the processes of both operant conditioning and

introspection or self-reflection as determinants of social

behavior. The individual is neither driven solely by one

process nor the other, but rather a "continuous reciprocal

interaction of personal and environmental determinants"

occurs to influence behavior, includingq symbolic,

vicarious, and self-requlatory processes" (Bandura, 1977,

pp. 11-12). The self is, in this perspective, an evaluator

of experience and a regulator of behavior, whose qoal is to

achieve self-efficacy and valued outcomes in social

behavior. Self-efficacy, according to Bandura, is the

expectation that one can successfully perform behaviors

leading to valued outcomes (p. 79). In this sense,

Bandura's conception of self is akin to James' (1890/1950)

notion of the self as primarily seeking positive self-

evaluations, evaluations arising from successful social

behaviors. This notion of self is also similar to Hoqan's

conceptualizations of the self as striving for positive

self-reqard through successfully achieving status and

popularity (Hoqan, in press).

From the perspective of Bandura's theory, the self is an

active builder of perceptions and evaluations of its own

experience. The consequences of past performance not only

affect the likelihood of future performance, but provide the

individual with information about the relationship between

certain behaviors and their consequences. Because one can

reflect on the reinforcement contingencies of past

experiences, one can regulate one's environment and behavior

so as to try to achieve valued and avoid nonvalued outcomes

in the future. By implication, one can in some cases seek

to regulate the impressions of others about oneself in order

to obtain the social approval, acknowledgment, and self-

definition one desires (Hoqan, in press; Schlenker, 1980, in


From a different but related perspective, the self is

conceived as inseparable from the society of which it is a

part and by which it is produced. The symbolic

interactionist perspective assumes that people's behavior in

any situation is the result of constructed meanings

associated with that situation, meanings that are the

result of social experience and the object of people's

cognitive interpretation (Meltzer, Petras, & Reynolds,

1975). The position of the self is central in this

perspective and closely related to Bandura's approach in

that every behavior is the result of reflection and socially

derived interpretations or meanings that cues in the current

situation call forth. These meanings are built around

knowledge about the relationship between one's self as a

social actor and the perspectives of others as receivers and

evaluators of one's actions. According to Head (1934), the

fundamental process of interaction is communication, i.e.,

the transmission and reception of signals and symbols that

convey culturally shared conceptions of social reality

(Mead, 1934; Petras, 1968). In order to effectively

communicate, one must be aware of oneself as the object of

others' thoughts. Mead traces the development of this

awareness through a transition from an egocentric "I"

orientation to communication, to a "me" orientation in which

one recognizes that others have different perspectives, and

one adopts these perspectives in tailoring messages to

others (Mead, 1934).

The communication process places the self in the pivotal

position of receiving and interpreting data observed or

inferred from the situation. Taking the perspective of

others in interaction is necessary for effectively

estimating the likelihood of successfully performing a

behavior and obtaining the desired reward.

Mead's idea on the role of self as interpreter of

experience is closely related to the script approach of

Schank and Abelson (1977) and Lanqer (1978). According to

this approach, people gather information from their social

experiences and construct scripts which contain the

narratives of various types of social encounters. Scripts

are schemas organizedd mental representations or categories

of objects or events) that specify a sequence of actions

related causally and temporally (Schank & Abelson, 1977:

Nelson, 1981). When people enter an interaction, they are

likely to look for cues that might refer them to an

appropriate script to invoke in the situation. The self is

the unit that selects, engages, and performs the scripts

appropriate to the particular situation.

Script theory is relevant to present purposes, as is the

construction of social meanings through role-takinq, because

both develop throughout childhood (Mead, 1934; Nelson,

1981). One goal here is to assess the development of

children's knowledge of the self in social settings. When

do children become aware of the processes of role-taking in

others and script enactment by others in certain social

situations? When do they understand the interpersonal

factors involved in self-presentation situations?

One approach that combines and applies symbolic

interactionism and an early form of "script theory" is the

dramaturgical approach of E. Goffman (1955, 1959, 1967,

1971). Goffman's ideas center around the process,

structure, rules, and conventions that comprise social

behavior. His main focus is on the nature and function of

the rituals of social life as these facilitate and stabilize

social interaction (Goffman, 1959). It is called the

dramaturqical approach because of the analogy made between

social behavior and theatrical performance. The central

concepts are "face" somethingq presented to another that

reflects the actor's desire to have and maintain a

particular interaction); "performance" (any attempt to

influence another); "lines" (the rituals of communication

which convey both interactants' meanings and qoals in the

situation); and "fronts" (the settings manipulated to affect

interactions in desired ways) (Goffman, 1959).

For psychologists, the notion of face is particularly

relevant in providing a position in which to put the self as

individuals interact with others. Face is not necessarily a

completely accurate reflection of someone's inner self

(private beliefs and feelings), but rather a posture or

demeanor that enables one to interact smoothly with and

obtain desired rewards from others. This aspect of self, as

transient and situationally influenced, has since been

formalized in terms of images of self that one projects in

social interaction (Gergen, 1968; Schlenker, 1980; Turner,

1968). In addition, these images and their relationship

with other aspects of the self-concept have become prominent

vantage points for viewing the self and identity in social

behavior (Schlenker, in press-b), and more will be said of

this later.

It is reasonable to expect that understanding the

variable relationship between external behavior and internal

self-conceptions develops throughout childhood. Children's

understanding of this relationship with regard to social

anxiety is a major focus of the current study. Couching the

development of this understanding in terms of symbolic

interactionism, social learning theory, script theory, and

the self-presentation approach serves to focus attention

directly on the position of self in social interactions.

This focus is central to the propositions of Schlenker and

Leary's (1982) model of social anxiety as a self-

presentational phenomenon and is discussed below.

Self-presentation and social anxiety

Anxiety in the presence of others is an experience with

which everyone can identify, When people foresee

interacting with significant others, they may feel

apprehensive and nervous about the encounter and experience

psychological distress. In these situations, people may

manifest their distress through psychological or behavioral


maneuvers to somehow withdraw or dissociate themselves from

the situation in order to minimize the aversive nature of

the experience. What emerges as a common element in this

experience is the fear of being the focus of another's

attention and evaluation. The individual is aware that his

or her behavior or demeanor in the presence of others will

affect the way he or she is regarded by them, and the

individual is doubtful of being regarded in the ways he or

she desires.

The existence of social anxiety as a distinct subset of

general anxiety has been well-dccumented (Maqnusson 6

Ekehammar, 1975; Miller, Barrett, Haape, S Noble, 1972;

Sarason, 1978; Strahan, 1974). In factor analytic studies

on the dimensions contained in anxiety and fear inventories

separate factors emerge related to social as well as

nonsocial situations (e.g., Magnusson & Ekehammar, 1975).

For example, Maqnusson and Ekehammar (1975) analyzed

people's ratings of the potentially fearful situations

contained in their Individual's Beactions to Situations

(IRS) inventory. The dimensions revealed in a factor

analysis of the responses included (1) threat of punishment

(e.g., the person has broken a social rule and is being

called to account), (2) ego threat (e.g., the person is

confronted with an upcoming social performance--qivinq a

speech starting a new job), (3) threat of pain (e.q., being

physically harmed), and (4) inanimate threat (eq.. being


afraid of storms or the dark) (Maqnusson & Ekehammar, 1975).

The threat of punishment and ego threat indicate that

situations involving social interaction are conceptually

distinct from other anxiety-provoking situations. The

threat of punishment implies the individual expects to or

has already behaved in an inappropriate way and is in the

predicament of mending the negative evaluation made by

others. Ego threat suggests that the individual foresees or

is involved in social interaction where he or she is the

focus of the attentions and evaluations of others.

The experience of social anxiety has been the object of a

growing body of research (see for example, Curran,

Wallander, & Fischetti, 1980; Hurt & Preiss, 1978; Leary,

1980; Schlenker & Leary, 1982; Zimtardo, 1977). The kinds

of social settings studied are varied and the anxiety

experience has been called many things, for example, shyness

(Leary, 1980; Leary & Schlenker, 1981; Pilkonis, 1977;

Zimbardo, 1977), heterosexual social anxiety (Curran et al.,

1980), interaction and audience anxiety (Buss, 1980),

embarrassment (Buss, Iscoe, & Buss, 1979), and communication

apprehension (Hurt 8 Preiss, 1978). The common theme in

virtually all these investigations is the endangered

position of the self in social interaction. As such, the

experience of social anxiety is directly related to real or

imagined social pressures to behave in ways that will allow

the actor to obtain desired reactions from real or imagined


audiences. Due to the reliance of individuals on the regard

in which others hold them, the suggestion has been made that

the essential ingredient of social behavior is the desire to

appear to others in ways that will achieve desired

evaluations from them (Goffman, 1959; Schlenker, 1980).

Although all the above studies directly relate to the

position of the self, in social settings there are different

theoretical perspectives on the origins of social anxiety in

individuals and explanations of why and how it occurs.

There appear to be primarily three such perspectives

(Schlenker & Leary, 1982) relating to (1) skills deficits,

(2) cognitive self-evaluation, and (3) conditioned anxiety

reactions. According to the skills deficit perspective,

persons who suffer from social anxiety do so because they

lack required skills of interpersonal behavior (Arkowitz,

Hinton, Perl, 6 Himadi, 1978; Curran, 1975; Curran,

Wallander, & Fischetti, 1980).

With regard to interpersonal behavior generally, the

skills deficit perspective has received some support. In a

program designed to increase children's interpersonal

understanding and behavioral effectiveness, Spivack and

Sure (1976) presented scenarios of social situations to

children with social adjustment problems. They involved

children in these hypothetical situations, asking them how

they might feel and react as the actor and other story

characters. Getting children to generate alternative

behaviors and to recognize the actions and reactions of

actors in social settings was shown tot increase these

children's interpersonal skills. The deficits addressed by

Spivack and Shure seem to reflect an inability to consider

others' perspectives when in social settings, i.e., an

ineffective or underdeveloped sense of the interactive role

of the self in social situations.

Although the skills deficit perspective is a reasonably

productive way to view social anxiety, it has been suggested

that the primary mediating factor in ineffective social

behavior is not a lack of skills so much as an individual's

perceptions of lack of skills (Gcldfried & Sobocinski, 1975;

Kanter & Goldfried, 1979; Rehm 8 Marston, 1968). Research

has shown that people who score highly on measures of social

anxiety are more likely than nonanxious people to hold

unrealistic and negative beliefs about themselves (Barrios &

Shiqetomi, 1979; Golfried & Sobocinski, 1975). In addition,

people who hold negative self-beliefs and low expectations

of social success demonstrate higher levels of anxiety when

imagining themselves in social situations. One successful

method of reducing interpersonal anxiety in persons who

suffer it is the counseling method known as "rational

restructuring" in which the client is taught to

realistically reevaluate the types of situations that are so

anxiety-producing. This restructuring of the person's

perceptions of him or herself in relation to these


situations allows the person to achieve a heightened sense

of self-control (Kanter & Goldfried, 1979). These findings

not only qive support to the connection between the self and

the possibility of evaluation from others in producing

anxiety, but also the central role of the self-concept

(self-relevant images, beliefs, and feelings) in mediating

social behavior.

The conditioning approach to anxiety suqqests that all

types of anxiety, including social anxiety, are the result

of experiences associating certain objects and situations

with aversive consequences (Ax, 1953; Malmo, Boaq, & Smith,

1957). A past history of nonreward or punishment for

performing social behaviors (e.q., expressing one's opinion)

produces anxiety in an individual when he or she is

confronted with engaging in those social behaviors aqain.

The counseling technique of systematic desensitization is

built on a process of rewarding anxious persons for slowly

approaching the fear-inducinq object or situation. This

technique has been shown to be very useful in working with

anxious people across a variety of situations, for example,

dating and speaking (Lanq, Sroufe, & Hastinqs, 1967; Paul,

1966). The relevance of the conditioned anxiety perspective

is the acknowledgment of the crucial role of rewarder or

nonrewarder played by others in the social environment on

the production of anxiety. However, because it does not

directly involve an individual's conditions and perceptions


and the role these play in mediating social anxiety, this

perspective is somewhat limited.

Based on the three theoretical perspectives on social

anxiety, the position of the self in social anxiety is

somewhat unclear though implied. The skills deficit

perspective quite rightly suggests that lacking

interpersonal skills can create anxiety, but does not deal

with the psychological processes relating skills or a lack

of skills to dimensions of an individual's self-concept and

identity. For example, what does lacking a skill mean in

terms of the individual's selt-image? Likewise, the

conditioned anxiety perspective places the experience in the

social domain, but does not seek to relate the experience to

the individual actor's role in the situation. The cognitive

self-evaluation perspective does include the individual's

perceptions of him or herself in relation to others, but

does not show how these perceptions may be integrated with

and affect the person's identity and self-concept.

Recently, Schlenker and Leary (1982) have proposed a

model of social anxiety that directly involves aspects of

one's self in the process of the experience. Basic to the

experience is the realization that one is or will be the

focus of significant others' attention and evaluation. The

process underlying the experience is that of self-

presentation. The self-presentation approach comes out of

the tradition of symbolic interactionisa and the notion of

the self as mediator in behavior.


Through experience, people have expectations about the

structure and function of many types of interactions. From

the perspective of Goffaan (1959), the purpose of these

expectations and the culturally transmitted nature of all

interactions is to endorse and maintain a stable social

community. There are tacitly aqreed-upon forms and patterns

of interactions that arouse people to expect and enqaqe in

learned sets of behaviors. Interactions with aqreed-upon

form and pattern are the conventions, rituals and roles of

social life. Adding to this map of social interaction,

psychologists (e.q., Jones & Schneider, 1968; Schlenker,

1980; Tedeschi, 1981) have emphasized the role of the self

as an active perceiver and mediator of behavior, an

expecting, reflecting, and feeling aqent for processing

self-relevant information, constructing acceptable self-

views, and projecting into future situations. The view

emerges of people as capable of self-requlation (Bandura,

1977) by reading the narrative of their past and planning

future scenarios.

Based on the idea that we are dependent on others for

approval, reward, status, and self-validation, the notion of

self-requlation has several important implications. It is

often in people's best interest to be evaluated positively

by significant others. People may desire or feel obliged to

control which aspects or information about themselves they

allow to become public knowledge. As a result, people can


control the evaluations others have of them through being

aware (consciously or unconsciously) of the position and

effect of the self in social interactions. According to the

self-presentation approach, people interacting with others

convey information about themselves by their demeanor,

behavior, and reactions to particular social settings.

Social anxiety arises when this communication of information

from self-to-other does not or is not likely to produce the

desired evaluation (Schlenker & Leary, 1982). Because of

the comprehensiveness and utility of the Schlenker and Leary

model, it is summarized below and related to the goals of

the current study.

According to the model, social anxiety is "anxiety

resulting from the prospect or presence of interpersonal

evaluation in real or imagined social settings" (Schlenker &

Leary, 1982, p. 642). The experience is viewed as a self-

presentational phenomenon, i.e,, one in which an individual

makes a conscious or unconscious attempt to control self-

relevant images before real or imagined audiences

(Schlenker, 1980). As such the role of the self in the

social setting becomes critical as the individual feels that

he or she will in this case be unable to fulfill some self-

presentational goal. Generally speaking, the goal is to be

regarded in a desired way on some dimension relevant to

one's identity.1

In this case, identity "is a theory (or schema) that is
constructed about how one is and should be perceived,


When someone is motivated to be regarded in a particular

way, either the audience is significant to the person, the

identity-image is important, or both. Such a person will

find the image successfully or unsuccessfully claimed based

on the reactions and evaluations of the audience. In

recognizing this evaluative process, a person understands

the role of the self and others in social behavior. One

important task for someone engaging in self-presentation is

to anticipate or gain knowledge of what the audience is

thinking or likely to think about the actor. Understanding

the relationship of self vis-a-vis others in social settings

implies taking account of each actor's viewpoint on the

other actorss, the interaction goals, and constraints of

the situation.

According to Schlenker and Leary, "social anxiety arises

in real or imagined social settings when people are

motivated to make a particular impression on others, but

doubt that they will do so, having expectations of

regarded and treated in social life" (Schlenker, in press-
a). Elements of one's identity include facts, beliefs,
feelings, and standards composing one's nature. The
images of one's identity that one projects in social
interaction reflect one's identity but may vary in the
sense that they may shift from situation to situation,
while not destroying the overall identity. For example,
one may define oneself as amiable generally, but recognize
situations in which stubbornness is necessary. One's
identity and images can be viewed as guides for behavior,
representing scripts and roles played out in social
situations. Furthermore, one's identity and its images
are an aspect of one's overall self-concept which includes
other, nonsocial aspects of experience (Epstein, 1973;
Schlenker, 1980).


unsatisfactory impression-relevant reactions from others"

(Schlenker & Leary, 1982, p. 643). Implicit in this

proposition is the process of reflection or self-evaluation

by which the actor will assess the audience's reaction and

determine whether the self-presentational qcal has been or

will be successfully achieved. In the case of social

anxiety, actors must anticipate the likelihood that their

standard for success will be met. Given an actor who is

motivated to impress an audience, as the perceived

likelihood of success decreases, the magnitude of the social

anxiety experience increases (Schlenker & Leary, 1982).

The factors of an actor's motivation to impress another

and his or her perceived ability to do sc are crucial

antecedents to the social anxiety experience (Schlenker &

Leary, 1982). The motivation to convey a particular image

to an audience increases as do the importance of the image

to one's identity and the importance of the particular

audience. The importance of the image can be a function of

its centrality or salience in relation to one's overall

identity and the worth or value of the outcomes associated

with claiming the image. The importance of the audience is

a function of its power to mediate the person's goals in the


Insofar as motivation to impress others can set the stage

for social anxiety, it has been shown that the type of

situation one expects can influence feelings of anxiety,


fear or shyness. For example, a first date carries qreat

evaluative implications and increases one's motivation to

impress the other, and it is a situation that most people

feel induces fear or shyness (Zimbardo, 1977). This "first

encounter" situation implies greater concern for how one

will appear to others, perhaps in part because first

impressions are so highly related to later evaluations. An

upcoming test will presumably increase one's self-

presentational concerns more than an upcoming qame, because

of the greater weight, for the most part of test performance

over qame performance. For example, children talk less when

confronted with a test versus qame (McCoy, 1965), and

decreased or interrupted communication has often been

associated with anxiety (Daly, 1978).

In addition to the motivational effects of the type and

importance of a particular situation, dimensions of the

audience can influence an actor's motivation. For example,

the size of the audience has been shown to lead to increased

nervousness, stuttering, and less talking (Hurt & Preiss,

1978; Jackson & Latane, 1981; Levin, Baldwin, Gallway, &

Paivio, 1960; Porter, 1939). Presumably, an increased focus

on the individual due to increasing numbers in an audience

raises concerns about how one will be regarded in the

situation (Buss, 1980; Feniqstein, 1979; Feniqstein,

Scheier, & Buss, 1975).


In any social setting there is bound to be at least some

degree of attention or awareness of one's self as the object

of other's impressions, at least in older children and

adults. This awareness of oneself as a social object is

central to the construct of public self-consciousness

(Feniqstein, 1979). People who are publicly self-conscious

are prone to feeling like they are being observed by others,

have a heightened sense of others' reactions to then, and

consider others as acting so as to directly affect them

(Feniqstein, 1979; Schlenker & Leary, 1982). Due to this

heightened self-attention, publicly self-conscious people

show "an increased concern with the presentation of self and

the reactions of others to that presentation" (Feniqstein,

1979, p. 76). This state of heightened self-attention can

be not only an individual trait, but also a state created by

elements of the situation. Induced self-attention is viewed

as being a state of "objective self-awareness," where one's

attention is momentarily focused inward due to environmental

factors (Duval & Wicklund, 1972). A typical induction of

objective self-awareness is to place experimental subjects

in front of a mirror, camera, or tape recorder, thereby

making the self salient. The induction of objective self-

awareness appears to increase individuals' attention to

themselves, to how they are being viewed by others, to

whether or not they are maintaining their own standards for

social behavior, and to the details of their behavior


(Deiner & Srull, 1979; Duval 6 Wicklund, 1972; Hull & Levy,

1979). According to Duval and Wicklund (1972), objective

self-awareness centers on self-evaluation in which the

objectively self-aware person will compare his or her

behavior with standards for conduct and enjoy satisfaction

or suffer dissatisfaction based on the results of the


Increased attention to the self in social settings and

evaluations of self in relation to standards and hoped-for

performances seems to increase motivation to perform

satisfactorily. This increased motivation can set the stage

for social anxiety. Self-focused attention as represented

by those high on public self-consciousness (measured by the

Self-Consciousness Scale, Feniqstein, Scheier, & Buss, 1975)

has been shown to be significantly related to measures of

social anxiety (Schlenker & Leary, 1982). For example,

public self-consciousness is positively correlated with

measures of shyness (Cheek 6 Buss, 1981), interaction and

audience anxiousness (Leary, 1980), as well as with self-

reports of shyness (Pilkonis, 1977a). What occurs in a

social anxiety situation inherently involves looking ahead

to or finding oneself in the position of being the object of

another's attention. It is reasonable to expect that the

idea of another's presence, attention, and impending

reaction to the actor engages the actor in the sort of self-

evaluation process discussed by Duval and Wicklund (1972).


If, during this self-evaluation, the actor comes to doubt

his or her ability to behave in ways that might successfully

produce a desired reaction, then social anxiety becomes a


People engaged in social interaction expect certain

outcomes. Although one miqht not be consciously enqaqed in

assessing interaction outcomes--how likely is one outcome as

opposed to another, how acceptable or unacceptable is

each--there is inevitably some assessment of how one's

behavior fits with one's standards for the situation. In

terms of social anxiety, the assessment phase primarily

takes place prior to and during the interaction (Schlenker &

Leary, 1982). It is during this phase that a person with a

self-presentational goal considers (1) what are the

necessary abilities or attributes fulfillment of the goal

requires, (2) whether or not he or she possesses them and

(3) whether he or she will be able to convey them

successfully to the particular audience (Carver, 1979, p.

1266; Schlenker & Leary, 1982). To the degree that the

actor doubts he or she will be able to behave in ways

commensurate with some personal or social standard held for

the behavior, he or she will experience social anxiety.

Perhaps the clearest case of low expectations of

successfully claiming an image is when one is not aware of

the appropriate behavior in the situation (Schlenker 8

Leary, 1982). Research has shown that people report feeling

more fearful or anxious when confronted with a novel

situation (e.g., meeting someone new for the first time at a

new club) (Pilkonis, 1977b; Zimbardo, 1977). It has been

suqqested that the social anxiety attendant to novel

situations reflects the absence of schemas or scripts

related to these situations (Schlenker & Leary, 1982). From

this perspective the importance of role-enactment for

individuals in social settings becomes clear, i.e., the

person without a script is "lost" and anxious about what to

do or how to do it in the same way an actor on staqe may

feel without the lines and staqe directions he or she is to

enact. In effect, the anxiety in these situations arises

from a sophisticated understanding of the position of self

in social settings, i.e., that one's social behavior is the

object of the attention and scrutiny of others. From the

perspective of symbolic interactionism, the person/actor has

acquired at least a general schema for social behavior,

although he or she lacks schema for certain specific social


Another factor contributing to low expectations of beinq

regarded by others in desired ways is the perceived lack of

ability to achieve the self-presentational qoal. In this

case, people may be aware of what should be done to achieve

the particular audience reaction, but feel they do not

possess the requisite skills, attributes, or resources

(Schlenker & Leary, 1982, p. 650). For example, in order to


claim the image of intelligence, one must or should have or

produce evidence to support the claim, say, by referencing

one's academic achievements or by speaking in a

knowledgeable way on a broad number of topics. If one tries

to claim intelligence but realizes one might not have the

foundation to support the claim, then one runs the risk of

being "found out," resulting in undesirable evaluations and

reactions from the particular audience. Most adults are

quite probably aware of this scenario of claiming to be

something one is not and being called to judgment for it.

The quandary is wishing to be regarded in a certain way

(i.e., highly motivated to impress another) but expecting

failure and its attendant suffering. Social anxiety arises

from this assessment and the question one might ask oneself,

"Should I give it a try?" Children, for whom knowledge of

social behavior is incomplete, may not be so concerned with

this assessment stage and foresee successful outcomes even

in the face of past failure. (Research indirectly supports

this contention and more will be said of it in the next


The perception of the lack of ability to achieve one's

self-presentational goal is probably based in part on one's

past failure in similar situations (Bandura, 1977; Schlenker

& Leary, 1982). It is during the assessment phase that such

experiences yield low outcome expectancies when the past

makes failure likely. Mixed with high motivation to impress

an audience, this situation should produce social anxiety.

The above account takes the position that people are

reasonably accurate in their assessment of past and future

performances, but as discussed earlier, people may have an

unrealistic set of negative self-beliefs concerning their

proficiency in social behavior. Furthermore, these negative

self-evaluations have been shown to be related to social

anxiety (Rehm & Marston, 1968). Whether one's perception of

lack of ability is a distortion or an accurate assessment of

one's ability, when combined with motivation to impress

another, the perception leads to social anxiety.

The convergence of one's motivation and one's perceived

ability embody the essence of self-presentational concerns

(Schlenker, 1980, in press-b; Schlenker 6 Leary, 1982). At

least five types of states pertinent to self-presentational

concerns can be distinguished (Schlenker, in press-b).

First, when people are not motivated to impress another

person, their perception of their ability is irrelevant in

the encounter, and they simply do not have any self-

presentational goals. They are indifferent to the

situation. Second, when people are assured of another's

evaluation on some identity-relevant dimension, they

probably feel complacent about their performance in the

situation. Third, people who wish to impress another and

who perceive themselves very able to do so successfully feel

secure about themselves and their behavior. Fourth, people

who are motivated to make a particular impression, but


perceive themselves as only moderately able to successfully

claim the image, perhaps feel challenged to behave

successfully and feel somewhat socially anxious in the face

of this challenge. Finally, people who are motivated to

impress others in a situation, but perceive themselves

unable to do so should experience a great deal of social

anxiety (Schlenker, in press-b). Although each of the

situations is of qreat interest in understanding social

anxiety, they were enumerated as important elements in the

process of establishing and maintaining a relationship

(Schlenker, in press-b). In an attempt to understand how

children relate and understand the antecedents of social

anxiety, i.e., actor's motivation and ability, two levels of

each of these antecedents were crossed to allow comparison

of all combinations of factors. As a result, only the

"secure" (high motivation and high ability) and the

"anxious" (high motivation and low ability) scenarios from

the Schlenker topography were included here. In addition,

actors portrayed as low in motivation and low in ability and

low in motivation and high in ability were included to

complete the crossing of factors. Children were asked to

respond to these actors with regard to the types of behavior

and feelings the actors may manifest. A consideration of

some of these behaviors follows.

Behaviors and Social Anxiety.

The experience of social anxiety is an aversive one and

is associated with nervous reactions and defensive maneuvers

and can include decreased, hesitating, and less articulate

verbalizations, nervous habits (e.q., fidqetinq with one's

hands), smiling, head nodding, and signs of physical and/or

psychological withdrawal (Schlenker & Leary, 1982).

One of the most well-documented effects of anxiety on

social behavior is the production of deficits in

communication skills. In a review of research, Murray

(1971) found that speech facility and anxiety are

curvilinearly related in an inverse-U function, i.e., speech

productivity increased with increasing anxiety up to a

point, then diminished. The fact that hiqh levels of

anxiety do decrease communicative effectiveness has received

substantial support (Borkovec, Stone, O'Brien, & Kaloupek,

1974; Daly, 1978; Pilkonis, 1977t; Swartz, 1976). In

addition, the communication patterns of socially anxious

people seem to be directed at minimizing contact with

audiences (Cheek & Buss, 1981; Schlenker 8 Leary, 1982).

The idea that anxious people try to distance themselves

from others in anxiety-provokinq situations has been

supported by research (Cheek & Buss, 1981; Modiqliani, 1971;

Pilkonis, 1977a; Zimbardo, 1977). For example, Cheek and

Buss (1981) demonstrated that shy people who also value

beinq with other people tend to talk less and avert their

gaze more than non-shy people. Also, people avoid

situations in which embarrassment is likely (Brown &

Carland, 1971) or in which they fear beinq evaluated by

others (Cheek & Buss, 1981). When involved in an anxiety-

provoking situation, people may resort to very global

responses that reduce the intensity of another's evaluation,

for example, by smiling, aqreeinq a lot, nodding one's head,

etc. These responses have been shown in shy females in

unstructured situations (Pilkonis, 1977b) and have been

interpreted as allowing individuals to appear agreeable in

situations where they doubt their ability to obtain a truly

positive evaluation (Leary & Schlenker, 1981).

Although there is no research on this topic with

children, they should become more sophisticated with aqe in

recoqnizinq the relationship between anxiety and behavioral

reactions to it. It is reasonable to suqqest, for example,

that younger children would be less able than older children

to recognize the effects of social anxiety on the kinds of

communicative and interpersonal behaviors discussed above.

Presumably, younger children have less well-developed ideas

of the position of the self in interaction, perhaps because

they have less well-developed ideas of the self, generally.

More will be said of this later.

Situations and Social Anxiety.

As mentioned earlier, social anxiety has been implicated

in several different social situations, for example,

heterosexual dating anxiety, embarrassment, and speech

anxiety. Schlenker and Leary (1982) propose that the

underlying dimensions on which to position the various types

of social anxiety are (1) the degree to which the actor's

behavior is contingent on other's behavior, and (2) whether

the actor is anticipating self-presentational failure or has

already failed to achieve a self-presentational goal

(Schlenker & Leary, 1982, pp. 662-663). Based on the

distinction of Jones and Gerard (1967), contingent

interactions are those in which one's own behavior is

determined by the behavior of the other interactant and

vice-versa. These situations are typified by unstructured

spontaneous interactions. Noncontinqent interactions, on

the other hand, are those in which one's behavior follows a

script or plan and is less dependent on others' behavior in

more structured situations, for example, making a speech

acting in a play, teaching a class. In noncontinqent

situations the role and one's knowledge of the role are

central features, while in contingent interactions the role

is less well-defined, giving the person somewhat more

behavioral latitude in the interaction.

Based on this dimension it is possible to classify social

anxiety settings by the degree to which they are contingent

or noncontinqent. Clearly, for example, dating anxiety is

based on contingent interaction, while speech anxiety arises

in noncontingent interactions. The labels "interaction" and

"audience" anxiety have been coined to refer to anxiety

arising in the contingent and noncontinqent interactions,

respectively (Schlenker & Leary, 1982).

Although the same antecedents of social anxiety apply in

both interaction and audience anxiety situations, it is not

clear exactly how the experiences differ in terms of

people's responses to them. Noncontinqent interactions, on

the one hand, could produce greater concerns about audience

evaluations given the increased numbers of audience members.

In addition, performing before large audiences may increase

pressures on actors for whom such performances are novel.

At the same time, nonccntinqent situations involve more

planned, scripted behaviors, which might then decrease an

actor's concerns over knowing what to do in the situation.

Contingent interactions, on the other hand, may reduce

concerns over audience evaluations because of small audience

size, often only one other. Also, contingent interactions

may produce less anxiety because this is perhaps the most

common social experience people have. Still, these

situations may produce significant anxiety in actors because

there is usually no or very little prepared scripts for a

particular interaction. One goal of the current research is

to assess the degree to which these two types of situations

elicit different judgments from observers as to how the

person in the situations might behave.2

2 A predicament exists for actors in cases where they have
been challenged and proven by circumstances not to have an


From the perspective of symbolic interactionism and the

self-presentation approach to social behavior, the present

study will assess the nature and development of children's

understanding of the position of the self in social life.

In order to assess this progression, the formulations of

self-presentation and identity as articulated by Schlenker

(1980; in press-b) are most relevant. Their relevance lies

in the central position given the self and its elements in

the process of social interaction. In particular, the

propositions relating social anxiety to self-presentation as

presented by Schlenker and Leary (1982) are very relevant as

tools in assessing children's understanding of the role of

self in social interaction. To the extent that children are

able to understand self-presentational concerns in others,

they should be able to recognize other's motivation to

impress someone and assess their ability to succeed. It

must be noted that, while the definitions and propositions

image they were claiming to possess (Schlenker, 1980).
The experience of this "predicament anxiety" results from
being forced to restore the regard one desires from others
through remedial self-presentations, for example, by
proffering excuses and justifications for the infraction.
There is justification for the separation of predicament
anxiety from other forms of social anxiety. Recall, for
example, that the factor analysis of Magnusson and
Ekehammar (1975) revealed two types of anxiety situations
related to social interaction: one involving anticipation
of possible self-presentational failure, and one in which
the actor has already failed. Conceptually both types of
social anxiety (anticipated or actual) represent concerns
about possibly or actually being in an identity-
threatening predicament (Jackson & Latane, 1981; Schlenker
& Leary, 1982).


of the Schlenker and Leary social anxiety model were used in

making predictions about the variables affecting anxiety,

the current study was not a direct test of the model.

Measures were taken from observer-subjects as to the

influence of an actor's motivation and ability on social

anxiety. It was expected that observers' judgments would

conform to the overall propositions of the model, and one

goal of the research was to help illuminate the

applicability to observers' judgments.

Two developmental processes seem to be involved in this

understanding: social cognitive development (in terms of

specific abilities, e.g., role-taking) and development of

self-understanding as it relates to children's schemas

regarding the position of self in social interaction. In

the following section, these perspectives and developmental

processes will be addressed in detail.

Social-coQnitive Develojpent


The development of social cognition has been the object

of increasing attention and research (for a review see

Flavell & Boss, 1981; Shantz, 1975). Many abilities are

included under the heading of social-cognitive development,

ranging from such broad issues as the acquisition of self-

knowledqe (Mead, 1934) and the development of genetic

epistemology (Piaget, 1932/1965) to more narrowly focused

investigations such as the nature of early mother-child

interaction (Frankel, 1980) and self-recognition in

preschoolers (Nolan 6 Kaqan, 1980). The major outcome

desired from the myriad investigations into social-cognitive

development is a better understanding of the forms and

progression of individuals' ability to make social

inferences. This ability allows individuals to construct

meaningful and effective perceptions of their social world.

With regard to assessing the development and nature of

children's understanding of social anxiety, several social

inference abilities stand out as particularly relevant.

These include the ability to (a) take the role of another

person, (b) attribute motivation and causality to another's

behavior, and (c) understand one's self in social behavior

through the construction and use of social scripts and

recognition of private and public self-identities as they

relate to the expression of self-presentational behavior.

Each of these social-cognitive skills and their development

will be discussed below.

Studies of anxiety in children, as in that with adults,

deal primarily with two issues. On one hand, the research

focuses on childhood anxiety from the perspective of

clinical psychology in an effort to establish the parameters

and antecedents of the pathological forms anxiety can take

(Shaw, 1978). On the other hand, there are a number of

studies dealing with transient, state anxiety, revolving

around anxiety experienced prior to performance on some

task, for example, tests and sporting activities (Elardo &

Caldwell, 1979; McCoy, 1965; Simon & Martens, 1979; Wade,

1981). Both these areas of research are relevant to present

purposes, because in each case elements related to social

interaction often emerge as attendant pressure creating the

anxiety experience. Both are limited, however, in the first

case because the primary concern is with diagnosis and

measurement of clinical forms of anxiety and in the second

case, because the primary antecedent of the anxiety

experience is seen as the test or performance itself,

excluding the effects of possible social evaluation on the

anxiety experience. The relevance of these lines of

research in assessing children's perceptions of social

anxiety and self-presentation will also be discussed below.

Social-cognitive abilities

Among the social-cognitive abilities acquired during

childhood, the ability to take the role (or perspective) of

another person is perhaps most central. Bole-taking ability

includes the nonsocial ability of understanding that others

have different perspectives when perceiving their physical

environment and the social ability of understanding that

others have different psychological experiences (thoughts,

feelings). For effective usage in social interactions,

role-taking requires that the individual integrate


observable information about the situation the other is in

with information gained by inferring the other's

unobservable perceptions of the situation. The inferences

made would most likely include understanding the other's

motivations, intentions, goals, and feelings with regard to

the interaction as well as inferences about the other's

overall character. Research has shown that initially

children are primarily egocentric in their social role-

taking ability evidenced by their lack of recognition of

another's internal psychological perspectives (Feffer, 1970;

Flavell, 1968; Selman, 1971; Selman & Byrne, 1974). The

progression from this egocentric perspective is generally as

follows: (1) at first the child lacks the ability to infer

internal perspectives of others, (2) the child then learns

that others have different psychological experiences, but

fails to see the implications these have for interactions

with others, and (3) the child finally is able to infer that

others have different internal perceptions, is able to

integrate these inferences with his or her own perceptions,

and can use them to more effectively interact with and make

judgments about others (Forbes 1978).

Presumably, as their role-taking skills mature, children

become better able to understand that others' as well as

their own overt behavior may not necessarily be a direct

reflection of internal covert factors such as motivations

and conditions. Furthermore, younger children would

probably be less likely to integrate information about

others' perceptions and interaction goals and formulate an

accurate picture of how others are likely to respond to and

feel in those situations.

Accurate social judgments depend on more than simply

perceiving the presence or absence of an actor's motivation

to behave in a particular way or an actor's ability to do

so. Given the predicted variations in the experience of

social anxiety, the task of judging actors in such

situations becomes more complex. It becomes incumbent on

the observer to make finer discrimination when evaluating

the actor's degree of motivation, the actor's perceived

level of ability, and the nature of the situation itself.

Presumably, younger children will be less able to integrate

information about these factors when making judgments as to

the actor's feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in a social

anxiety situation.

Children's awareness and use of cues in evaluating others

has been studied extensively (for a review see Keasey,

1977). The issue in Piaqet's (1965) seminal work on moral

reasoning was the different types of information used by

children of various ages in evaluating an actor who has

committed a moral transgression. In the original broken cup

study, the actor was portrayed as either having good or bad

motives/intentions in the situation and either causing a

small or great amount of damage. The major finding of this

effort was a progression from children (under 7) relying

primarily on salient, objective cues (e.g., amount of

damage) in making judgments about the naughtiness of the

actor to children relying on subjective nonsalient cues

(motives/intent) in the situation. The critical factor in

the distinction between objective and subjective moral

reasoning was the ability of older children to perceive and

utilize information about the motives/intentions of the

story character. Replications generally have supported this

notion (Boehm, 1962; Boeha & Nass, 1962; Grinder, 1964;

Johnson, 1962). It appeared that the use of subjective

information about the actor's motives and intentions as a

mediator in children's judgments did develop later than

reliance on purely objective information.

The issue of subjective versus objective reasoning has

broadened to include research on the nature and development

of children's explanations of behavior, extending beyond the

domain of moral judgments (Berq-Cross, 1975; Keasey, 1977).

Included in these subsequent investigations are attempts to

understand children's developing ability to perceive and

spontaneously generate factors that can plausibly be viewed

as the causes or reasons for an actor's behavior.

Specifically, the degree to which children recognize and

integrate information about both the actor and situation

appears to increase with age (Darby & Schlenker, 1982a;

Keasey, 1977). Factors affecting children' social


judgments have included (1) the consequences of the actor's

behavior, with positive or negative valence and affecting

either human or nonhuman targets (Armsby, 1971; Berg-Cross,

1975; Costanzo, Coie, Grumet, & Farnill, 1973; Weiner &

Peter, 1973); (2) the intentions of the actor; that is, did

the actor foresee the consequences and attempt to obtain

them (Berndt & Berndt, 1975; Shaw & Sulzer, 1964); (3) the

motives of the actor, usually presented as good or bad, but

including reasons generated for the actor's behavior (Berndt

& Berndt, 1975; Karniol & Ross, 1976; Piaqet, 1965; Rule &

Duker, 1973; (4) the actor's feelings, usually measured by

empathic feeling for the actor (Feshbach 6 Feshbach, 1969;

Feshbach & Roe, 1968); (5) the character of the actor (Darby

& Schlenker, 1982b); (6) the responsibility of the actor

(Darby & Schlenker, 1982a; Shaw & Sulzer, 1964).

In the most typical paradigm, children are asked to ludge

actors depicted in stories interacting directly or

indirectly with others and producing some outcome (small

versus great and/or positive versus negative consequences).

Factors such as motives, intentions, and character are

presented in ways that require children to make inferences

about their presence and nature in the main story character.

Initially, the findings of such investigations showed

younger children relying more than older children on

information about the outcomes produced by the actor to the

exclusion of information presented earlier in the story

about the actor's motives and intentions. Subsequent

methodologies have more clearly distinguished between good

versus bad motives and between intentional versus accidental

acts (Costanzo et al., 1973; Karniol & Boss, 1976),

revealing that younger children (preschoolers) are aware of

these distinctions and use them when evaluating a story

character (Armsby, 1971; Buchanan 8 Thompson, 1973; Farnill,


Evidence has since accumulated to suggqqest that the

progression from objective to subjective reasoning is not so

very clear (Gutkin, 1972; Morrison & Keasey cited in Keasey,

1977). For example, Gutkin (1972) presented 6-, 8-, and

10-year-olds with two actors in two moral transgression

stories in which the severity of the consequences was either

varied (high versus low) or was held constant. The story

character's action was depicted as either intentional or

accidental and as the result of either a good or bad motive.

The results suggested a four-staqe progression. In the

first stage, children rated the characters in both stories

as equally naughty when they produced equally severe

consequences, showing no use of information about intentions

and motives. In the second stage, children based their

ratings on intentionality and motives when consequences were

identical, but based them on consequences when all three

factors varied. In the third stage, children's judgments

were based more on the actor's intentions/actives than on

consequences when all factors varied, but considered

consequences more important when consequences alone were

different across stories. In the fourth stage, children

considered the actor's intentions/motives more than

consequences when judging the actor's naughtiness in all

conditions (Gutkin, 1972).

What emerges from this kind of research is a picture of

children at preschool age to late childhood who may be aware

of another's motives and intentions, but who differentially

weight these factors, along with information about

consequences, in evaluating another's behavior (Berq-Cross,

1975; Darby & Schlenker, 1982a; Rybash, Boodin, & Hallion,

1979). The evidence from Gutkin's (1972) study suggests

this kind of differential weighting of information. In

addition, children apparently recognize and use different

inferred information about the cause of an actor's behavior

at different ages. For example, Peterson and Keasey (cited

in Keasey, 1977) have shown that in judging transgressive

actors, children use information about motives (whether the

actor is good or bad) prior to using information about the

actor's intentions, showing this preference as early as age

three. The use of information about another's intentions

appears later (by age 8) where the task is more directly to

attribute cause to another' behavior, presumably a more

complex task. As children grow colder, they become more

adept at formulating plausible explanations of another's


behavior. In order to do this children probably learn to

evaluate all the relevant elements related to the actor and

situation, integrate this information, and arrive at

reasonably accurate accounts of another's behavior.

In making social judgments, the development of children's

ability to make social attributions becomes an important

issue. It is reasonable to suspect that very younq children

have some notion about causality, gained through their

experiences of learning to produce desired outcomes by

acting on their environment (Piaqet, 1954). Furthermore, it

is likely that a child's notions of cause and effect become

increasingly more elaborate as do his or her interactions

with others and the environment. The acquisition of the

concept of psychological causes of behavior appears to

develop in the preschool years (Piaget & Inhelder, 1969).

At this staqe, however, children are often likely to imbue

even inanimate objects with a motivation to behave. It is

not until around 6 or 7 years of age that children, having

become more proficient at recognizing the subjective

perspectives of others, begin to distinguish between covert

subjective states and overt behavior and appreciate that

psychological states can in part determine behavior (Selman,


This rudimentary causal reasoning does not necessarily

allow children to make sophisticated assessments of

another's behavior. There is evidence to suqqest that the

higher-level ability to appreciate multiple causes of

behavior, including elements of the situation as well as the

internal perceptions of actors in the situation, develops

throughout childhood (Karniol & Boss, 1976; Smith, 1975;

Shultz, Butkowsky, Pearce, & Shanfield, 1975). Based on the

attribution theory of Harold Kelley (1971), researchers have

outlined the acquisition of a higher level causal reasoning

by investigating children's understanding of the discounting

principle and the scheme for multiple sufficient causation.

According to Kelley's discounting principle "the role of a

given cause in producing a given effect is discounted if

other plausible causes are also present" (Kelley, 1971, p.

8). Multiple sufficient causation refers to the presence of

an effect and two sufficient causes in which case either

cause will be accepted. To make sophisticated causal

attributions also requires the observer to consider the

inhibitory or facilitative nature of any cause present in

the situation. As a result, observers can make stable

attributions of causality to either the actor or the


In a study by Karniol and Ross (1976), kindergarteners,

second, and fourth grade children were presented with a

story involving hypothetical children playing with a toy.

In one condition, the child's mother had instructed him or

her to play with the toy; in another condition, the child's

mother rewarded him or her for playing with it; and in a


third condition, the child played with the toy on his or her

own accord. Subjects were asked which child had really

wanted to play with the toy. According to Kelley's model,

the cause of behavior in the first two conditions should lie

in the environment, and in the third condition in the actor.

Children's accurate attributions in these conditions would

demonstrate their ability to make use of the multiple

sufficient cause scheme and the discounting principle. The

results showed that second graders used the scheme for

multiple sufficient cause more than kindergarteners but less

than fourth graders. Kindergarteners failed to make

attributions in line with predictions from Kelley's model,

but rather cited both internal and external forces as

causing the child's behavior in the reward and command

conditions, suggesting a partial causal scheme in this age

group (Karniol & Ross, 1976, p. 459). (Smith, 1975,

obtained the same results with the exception that

kindergarteners showed no consistent use of causal schemes

in any condition.)

In another test of Kelley's model in childhood

attributions (Shultz et al., 1975), 5-, 9-, 13-year-olds

were shown pictures of an event and provided with

information about the presence or absence of potential

causes for the event. In line with Smith (1975), they found

no evidence for the use of the multiple sufficient cause

scheme in kindergarteners. Further, both 9- and 13-year-

olds showed evidence of understanding the scheme, that is,

were able to recognize when one of two causes for the event

was sufficient to produce the effect. Thirteen-year-olds,

however, made the finest discrimination by recognizing the

interactive effects of the inhibitory and facilitative

nature of causes. For example, this group was able to

discount a present inhibitory external cause and infer the

presence of an internal facilitative cause producing the

behavior (Shultz et al., 1975).

As these examples demonstrate, the ability to make social

attributions evolves throughout childhood. There are

parallels between the cognitive skills necessary to make

social inferences and the cognitive skills acquired in the

nonsocial domain following Piaqet's coqnitive-developmental

stages (Guttentag & Longfellow, 1977). One aspect central

to the progression of cognitive skills is centration or the

tendency to focus one's attention on the most salient

elements in a situation (physical or social) when evaluating

it (Inhelder & Piaget, 1958). Decentering is the ability to

shift one's attention from one to another relevant cue in

the perceptual field, thereby making social inferences more

accurate due to increased alternatives to use as

explanations. One who is capable of decentering must, then,

be able to process more types and greater amounts of

information when evaluating events. This capability seems

to advance with experience and acquisition of higher-level


cognitive skills. The work of Karniol and Ross, Shultz et

al., and Smith taken together shows that young children are

unable to decenter to any great degree, while older children

(by age 9) show evidence for greater skill at decentering.

In the Shultz et al. study the 13-year-olds showed clear

understanding of decentering, able to make finer

discrimination when explaining the causes of a social

action, Presumably older children (above fourth grade)

would be more likely than younger children to effectively

perceive and discriminate among the various levels of an

actor's motivation in a social anxiety situation.

As hypothesized in the previous section, the potential

for social anxiety varies not only with the level of an

actor's motivation to convey a specific desired image, but

also with the actor's perceptions of his or her ability to

do so successfully. In order to assess accurately an

actor's perceptions of ability level in this social

situation, children should have knowledge of the actor's

actual ability level based on past performance and the

presumed linkage between the actor's actual ability and his

or her perception of that ability. Combining this knowledge

with knowledge of the degree to which the actor is motivated

to impress the other interactant should result in varying

predictions about the actor's experience of social anxiety.

It is likely that older children are more able than younger

children to integrate this kind of information and formulate

accurate evaluations of an actor in this kind of situation.


Children's understanding of the concept of ability has

been studied in several ways (Frieze, 1976; Kun, 1977;

Nicholls, 1978, 1979; Shaklee, 1976; Stipek, 1981; Stipek &

Hoffman, 1980). Most of these studies are concerned with

tracing the development of children's perceptions and

predictions of their own and other's behavior on school

performance tasks. Using the model of causal attribution of

success and failure introduced by Weiner, Frieze, Kukla,

Reed, Rest, and Rosenbaum (1971), researchers have focused

on children's causal explanations of performance based on

the dimensions of locus of control and stability (e.q.,

Frieze, 1976; Nicholls, 1978, 1979; Stipek & Hoffman, 1980).

According to the Weiner et al. model, causal attributions of

one's performance outcome (success/failure) depend on

information about one's past performance on related tasks

(consistency) and others' performance on the task

(consensus). Following a successful or unsuccessful

performance, one is then likely to use this information to

evaluate one's performance attributing it tc some internal

factor (ability or effort) or some external factor (task

difficulty or luck). The conclusion one draws has

implications for one's expectations about future performance

outcomes. Experimentally, in rating hypothetical actors,

observers used information about the actor's consistency

over time on related tasks as well as knowledge of others'

performance on the task. For example, observers attributed

high ability or effort to a successful actor when others

were described as failing the task. Also, subjects

attributed luck to a successful actor who had failed on

previous trials.

Similar studies have been conducted with children (e.g.,

Frieze, 1976; Ruble, Feldman, 8 Boqqiano, 1976; Weiner &

Peter, 1973), in which they were presented with descriptions

depicting a successful or unsuccessful actor along with

information about the actor's past performance, the

performance of others, and the actor's incentive to do well

(i.e., task importance). In the Frieze (1976) study

children in grades 4 through 12 were given such a story and

asked to rate the sufficiency of each of four factors

(ability, luck, task difficulty, and effort) as causal

explanations for the actors' outcome (success or failure).

The results showed that all children made fairly consistent

attributions in line with the Weiner et al. model. For

example, outcomes consistent with past performance were

attributed to stable causes (ability and task difficulty),

while inconsistent outcomes were attributed to unstable

causes (luck and effort).

While this provides support for the notion that young

children (at least fourth graders) are adept at using

information about past performance as a guide in rating the

sufficiency of various possible causal factors (see also

Shultz et al., 1975), the results do not go unqualified.


The Frieze (1976) study also indicated that older children

were more consistent than younger children in their

judgments, varying them on the basis of past performance as

well as the importance of the task (actor's incentive). For

example, when the incentive was low, elder children

attributed an actor's success to effort and an actor's

failure to task difficulty. Furthermore, older children

also made more use of consensus information (others'

performances) when explaining the actor's outcome.

Evidence from these studies provides some support to the

idea of a progression throughout childhood of the ability to

utilize various sources of information to arrive at a

sophisticated level of social inference. Presumably, only

children with the relatively sophisticated information-

processing skills as described above will be able to

accurately weight and integrate information about an actor's

past performance and incentive to impress another in self-

presentation situations.

A study by Kun, Parsons, and Ruble (1974) provides

evidence consistent with the above, but approaches

children's ability to make attributions from a slightly

different perspective. While children in the Frieze (1976)

study were presented with information about the success or

failure of a hypothetical actor, Kun et al. provided

children with information about an actor's past performance

and current effort and asked them to predict the most likely


outcome. The results indicate that children as young as six

do use information about effort and ability in predicting

another's outcome, reflecting, perhaps, some evidence for

decentering at this age. However, the 6-year-olds failed to

recognize the multiplicative nature of effort and ability,

but rather, for example, predicted success when either the

actor demonstrated great effort or had hiqh ability or both.

Older children (8- and 10-year-olds), on the other hand,

used both effort and ability information, recognizing their

multiplicative nature in producing outcomes, for example,

predicting greatest likelihood of success when both effort

and ability were substantial, but less likelihood of success

when either ability or effort was insubstantial (Kun,

Parsons, & Ruble, 1974).

In addition to the above finding, Kun et al. found that

subjects over 8 years of age depended more and more on

effort information in making their predictions, weighting it

more heavily than information about past performance.

Consistent with this result are the findings of Weiner and

Peter (1973), who also noted an increasing preference for

effort information with aqe. Perhaps this growing reliance

on effort in predictions of achievement outcome represents

an increasing awareness of the relationship between effort

and ability; that is, ability is static and finite whereas

effort can vary and have a stronger mediating effect on

predictions of success. It appears that recognition of this

relationship increases with age (Nicholls, 1978).


Children not only vary in their understanding and use of

ability and effort information, but also generally differ in

the predictions of successful or unsuccessful outcomes

(Nicholls, 1978, 1979; Stipek & Hoffman, 1980). Evidence

suggests that younger children are more likely than older

children to predict higher chances for success for

themselves, even whey they have had a history of failure

(see also Parsons & Ruble, 1977; Shaklee 6 Tucker, 1979).

This finding has been interpreted as supporting the notion

that younger children (preschoolers) lack the cognitive

skills necessary to assess accurately information about past

performance and use this information to predict future

outcomes (Parsons & Ruble, 1977). By around age 8, children

do attain the necessary cognitive skills to make "accurate"

predictions based on this kind of information.

Interpretation of this progression as an achievement in

cognitive understanding has not gone unchallenged, however.

Stipek and Hoffman (1980) reproduced the finding that young

children have "overly optimistic expectations of success,"

but also demonstrated that these same young children do use

information about hypothetical others' past performance to

reasonably predict the others' outcomes. They suggest that,

as a result, children as young as 3 can and do have the

ability to make outcome predictions for others, but may have

what Piaget (1954) discussed as an exaggerated view of their

own self-efficacy.


It is important to note that, while the above research on

children's performance-related judgments is useful in

assessing their understanding of the performance of actors

in self-presentation, the information provided about an

actor's past performance (his or her ability) references

somewhat different situations. As discussed earlier, the

degree of social anxiety experienced by an actor is a

product of the actor's motivation to impress an evaluative

audience and the actor's perceived ability to do so. The

most important dependent measure here is children's

judgments of a hypothetical actor's experience of social

anxiety. It was expected that younger children would be

more likely than older children to utilize information about

the actor's past performance alone while elder children

would be more able to recognize the interaction between past

performance and degree of motivation when evaluating the

actor's experience. Along with judgments of the actor's

experience, children were asked to predict the actor's

probability of successfully achieving his or her goal.

While it is relevant to these issues, research on

performance-related judgments have not used settings where

performance is directly related to obtaining a desired

interaction goal, but rather focus almost exclusively on

performance of skill and academic tasks. While performance

evaluation is implicit, it is not treated as a central

factor. With regard to the current study, the presence of

an evaluative audience is central. Hence, the notion of

performance here is somewhat different than in the research

discussed above.

It was thought, however, that interesting age differences

would emerge in children's judgments of social anxiety in

others across the two types of social anxiety situations

discussed earlier. Recall that the interaction/continqent

scenario involves an actor whose behavior is for the most

part unplanned and the result of responses exchanged with a

significant other. Conceptually distinct is the

audience/noncontingent scenario in which the actor's

behavior is for the most part planned and not the result of

spontaneous exchanges during interaction. It is possible

that children prior to age 8 rather than clder children will

react differently to each of these situations with regard to

their use of past performance or ability information. It

might be the case that younger children will be less

accurate in judging the social anxiety experience of actor's

in the interaction than in the performance situation. For

example, for younger children, knowledge of past performance

in social interactions might be less precise and more

variable than knowledge of past performance on some less

social, script-determined ability. As a result, younger

children might judge actors in contingent situations as more

likely to be successful than in noncontingent situations

when the actor was unsuccessful in the past. This could be

due in part to young children's evaluations of others in

social settings which appear to reflect reactions as though

they themselves were the actor (Darby, 1980). In the

performance situation, where ability information about a

performance on a more concrete skill is given, younger

children should perhaps show a more accurate understanding

of past performances and their impact on success or failure

in others.

A completely accurate assessment of an actor's social

anxiety experience involves not only consideration of past

performance information, but also recognition that the actor

has a particular perception of that ability. It is not the

level of ability alone, but the actor's perception of that

ability that interacts with motivation to potentially

produce social anxiety. Beyond processing information

presented about an actor's motivation and ability, children

were tested as to how effectively they took the role of the

actor to determine that actor's responses to the situation.

From the previous discussion of role-taking, it was presumed

that younger children would be less able than older children

to infer the actor's self-perception of ability to convey

the desired impression in the situation.

The nature of the role-taking task above is of the one-

step variety, i.e., the observer is able or unable to take

the role of the actor. Observers of a self-presentation

situation, however, must move beyond this one-step inference

process to a two-step process, recognizing not only the

actor's perspective, but the other story characters'

perspectives as well. For example, an actor who is

motivated to impress another but doubts his or her ability

to do so is not only thinking of these dimensions, but also

the thinking (or potential evaluations) of the others. In

order to assess another's social anxiety experience in this

case, an observer would need to recognize that the actor is

thinking not just of him or herself but also what the other

may be thinking of him or her. The observer who recognizes

these processes would be demonstrating an understanding of

the recursive nature of thinking. This understanding

appears to increase with age (DeVries, 1970; Feffer, 1970;

Flavell, 1968,1979,1981; Miller, Kessel, & Flavell, 1970;

Selman, 1973; Selman & Byrne, 1974).

From the perspective of the child as perceiver of his or

her own thoughts, the role-taking ability involved in

"thinking about thinking" is described as developing through

four levels (Flavell, 1968; Shantz, 1975). At the first

level (by age 6), children can infer that others may have

different thoughts from their own. Next, children (around

age 8 or 9) become aware that others do have different

thoughts. Next, children (by at 10 or 11) become aware of

others' thoughts, while at the same time considering what

others are thinking the child is thinking. Finally,

children (12 through adolescence) recognize the potentially

endless recursion to interpersonal thinking and make

reasonably accurate assessments of the interrelationships

among the perspectives of a number of others in relation to

their own (Shantz, 1975).

Prom the perspective of the child as perceiver of another

in interaction (i.e., the child not as interactant, but

observer), the same developmental trend emerges (Miller,

Kessel, & Flavell, 1970). In the Miller et al. study,

children from first to sixth grade were shown cartoons

depicting an actor (a) thinking about two people, (b)

thinking about two people talking, (c) thinking about the

thinking of another person, and (d) thinking about the

thinking of another person thinking about the actor.

(Analysis revealed this series to reflect increasing

difficulty.) Children were asked to describe what the actor

was doing. The results indicated that all children

understood the processes in the first cartoon. However, it

was not until fourth grade that children understood the

second cartoon, with 75% of fourth graders understanding it.

Fifth and sixth graders were able to understand the

reasoning in the third cartoon, but experienced some

difficulty with it. There was no evidence in the grades

sampled of understanding of the fourth cartoon. Miller et

al. interpreted their results as providing further evidence

for the development of this role-taking skill in conjunction

with other, more typically tested role-taking abilities.


With regard to children's perceptions of an actor in a

social anxiety situation, it was considered likely, in line

with the above developmental trend, to expect that younger

children would be less likely than older children to

recognize the recursive nature of thinking. As a result,

their evaluations of an actor's social anxiety experience

would not be as related to measures of the degree to which

they understand the actor's thinking in the situation.

Conversely, older children's evaluation of social anxiety

would be directly related to measures of their ability to

understand the nature of recursive thought processes.

Children's ability to take the perspective of another and

make inferences about the others' thoughts, feelings, and

desires is related in important ways to their skills in

interpersonal functioning (Marsh, Felicisima, 6 Barenboim,

1981; Spivack & Shure, 1976; Spivack, Platt, & Shure, 1976).

Interpersonal functioning includes a number of related

interpersonal skills such as a child's understanding of

social processes (e.g., his or her understanding of other's

perceptions in social settings, his or her ability to

recognize others' goals in interaction and how they may

conflict, how he or she understands interpersonal problem-

solving, and how effective he or she is in pursuing and

achieving interaction goals).

It has been suggested that the ability to make accurate

inferences about others' perspectives is fundamental to

effective interpersonal functioning (Afflect, 1975;

Batchelor, 1975). Research has supported this contention,

showing a direct relationship between social perspective-

taking ability and interpersonal problem-solving (Marsh et

al., 1981; Spivack et al., 1976). In a recent study of this

relationship, Marsh et al. (1981) tested eighth graders on

their perspective-taking ability and problem-solving skills.

She was interested in how these two social-coqnitive

abilities related to one another and to children's social

behavior. Subjects were rated on the degree to which they

could (1) take the perspective of various actors in an

ambiguous social setting (Feffer's (1970) Role-Takinq Task),

(2) assess the affect of a story character, (3) predict a

story protagonist's successful attainment of his or her

interaction goal, and (4) analyze components of an

interpersonal problem-solving task--what is the problem,

what might the story character do, what the character feels,

etc. Then children rated themselves and were rated by

teachers on their level of interpersonal problem-solving

ability reflected in responses to measures of the child's

own behavior. As a result, two dimensions of perspective-

taking (social and affective) were assessed along with two

types of problem-solving tasks and measures of the subject's

own ability.

The results showed a strong and direct relationship

between perspective-takinq and interpersonal problem-

solving. In addition, although there were differences

depending on whether the child or teacher was rating the

behavior, there was evidence of a relationship between

children's levels of perspective-takinq and interpersonal

problem-solving and ratings of actual problem-solvinq

behavior. It appears that proficiency in social inference

tasks reflects a similar proficiency in evaluating others'

interpersonal problem-solving as well as one's own. Because

these results are based on only one age group of children,

it is not possible to determine a clear developmental

progression in these social-coqnitive skills. However,

their conceptual linkage makes it reasonable to suspect that

social perspective-takinq and interpersonal problem-solving

ability may develop concurrently. Furthermore, proposing a

parallel developmental progression reflects the approach of

Spivack and Shure (1976), who have developed a program for

helping improve children's interpersonal functioning

generally. Their program involves directly training

maladjusted children in the use of social inference skills,

commensurate with a child's level of social-coqnitive

understanding, in order to improve their social functioning

(Spivack & Shure, 1976).

As a result, analyzing and solving problems are integral

interpersonal skills that emerge and become increasingly

sophisticated throughout childhood. Social competence

seems to directly imply the social-cognitive perspective-


taking ability as described above. Children who accurately

assess the degree to which another may experience social

anxiety would be socially competent in this way, i.e., by

recognizing that an interpersonal problem exists for an

actor under high social anxiety conditions, why it exists,

what the actor must or is most likely considering in order

to solve the problem, and expectations of the interaction


Children and self-presentation

As defined earlier, self-presentation represents an

actor's conscious or unconscious attempts to convey a self-

relevant image to real or imagined audiences. Social

anxiety has been defined as the aversive experience

resulting from an actor's perception that he or she is

unlikely to achieve a self-presentational goal. It is

expected that children of different ages will differ in the

manner and degree to which they understand the phenomenon of

social anxiety in others. Their understanding of the

relevant variables involved in creating social anxiety

should reflect related developmental processes. First,

their understanding should reflect their level of social-

cognitive development (e.g., taking the actor's perspective,

including recognizing the actor's goals in the interaction,

understanding the interaction of the actor's level of

ability with the actor's motivation, making inferences about


the psychological causes of behavior, and making inferences

about the actor's thoughts and perceptions.)

Second, children's understanding of social anxiety should

be related to their level of self-understanding (e.g.,

recognizing yourself as affecting and being affected by the

impressions others hold toward you, understanding the

potential divergence between private covert aspects of self

and public behavior). From the perspective of theoretical

writing on the nature of the self, this development of self-

understanding closely resembles the notion of "empirical

self" (James, 1890/1950). The empirical self is generally

defined as one's understanding of one's self as the object

of other's thoughts and action, including recognition of

others' impressions of self. It is the self-as-known. The

complementary dimension of self, according to James

(1890/1950), is the "I," or one's sense of self as an

existing, volitional being. It is the self-as-knower.

There is growing evidence to suggest, as described

originally by Mead (1934), that the "I" or pure self

develops first followed by the "me" or empirical self

(Broughton, 1978; Damon & Hart, 1982; Guardo & Bohan, 1971;

Selman, 1980). Through social experience, children grow to

understand themselves and the relationship between

themselves and their social environment, recognizing

situations that may heighten self-presentational concerns.


Selman (1980) investigated the chanqinq nature of self-

understanding by presenting children from kindergarten

through sixth grade with stories requiring children to

reflect on the thoughts and behavior of the characters. The

main character is a child who has lost his puppy and tells a

friend that he wishes never to see another puppy. The

friend is then shown passing a pet store with only two

puppies left and knowing of the main character's upcoming

birthday. Children responded to questions about what the

friend should do followed by probes about the psychological

perspectives of the characters and the children's knowledge

of self generally (e.g., "Can you ever fool yourself into

thinking that you feel one way when you really feel


Selman found evidence for five stages of children's self-

awareness and understanding. Initially, children describe

the nature of self in terms of physicalistic dimensions,

showing no understanding of the difference between internal

psychological experience and external behavior. The child

at this stage is a nonreflective existential behaver. At

the next stage, around age 8, children recognize the

internal-external dimension but still assume a one-to-one

correspondence between behavior and feelings. At the third

stage (by age 9) children not only recognize the internal-

external dimension but also how these may not reflect the

same experience, i.e., knowing that behavior can be at odds

with feelings. In the fourth level (early adolescence)

younq people become aware of what Selman describes as the

self's own self-awareness and discusses this age as one of

increasing self-consciousness and attempts to monitor the

self-experience. Finally, in level five (middle to late

adolescence) individuals can handle often disturbing and

contradictory self-views by developing the idea of different

levels of consciousness, relegating conflicting self-images

to different places on a hierarchy from conscious to less

conscious aspects of self (Selman, 1980).

Very similar views of the development of self-

understanding have emerged in ether investigations

(Broughton, 1978; Guardo 6 Bohan, 1971; Keller, Ford, &

Meacham, 1978). The fundamental change common in such

studies and of importance for the current study is the

emergence sometime during middle childhood of a self that is

capable of distinguishing between inner psychological

experience and outer behavior. Specifically, children in

whom this kind of self has emerged should be more aware of

the pressures accompanying social behavior, i.e., the

presence often of an evaluative audience that motivates an

individual to present him or herself to the audience so as

to create a desired impression. The child at this stage

would recognize that he or she and other people can monitor

their thoughts and at one extreme, conscious deception

becomes a possibility (Damon 8 Hart, 1982). (Note that the


possibility of conscious deception does not mean that this

is the goal of most self-presentational behavior (Schlenker,

1980).) As a result, children at this age and later should

be better able to analyze others' behavior in terms of

others' self-presentational goals, and it is likely they

would appreciate the variables affecting the experience of

social anxiety.

As mentioned earlier, there are primarily three related

developmental processes involved in children's understanding

of self-presentational concerns in others. The first two

are the child's level of social cognitive development and

the level of children's self-understandinq. The third is

the process of integrating social experience and

constructing social scripts. The development of social

understanding from the approach of script theory is gaining

momentum (Nelson, 1981). This approach, based on work in

social psychology (Langer, 1978) and theoretical writing on

symbolic interactionism (Meltzer et al., 1975), conceives of

behavior in a current situation as following learned scripts

from experience in similar situations in the past. Persons

recognize cues in a current setting that engage scripts

that then direct their behavior.

Developmental work using the script approach typically

involves presenting children of different ages with labels

(cues) for a variety of different situations, for example,

eating at a restaurant (Nelson 6 Gruendel, 1979). By

analyzing the content of children's responses, it is

possible to assess the degree to which children are familiar

with a particular type of behavioral setting as well as how

their schematic representations of various settings differ

across ages. For example, relevant elements of a script

include temporal ordering of events, causal linkages between

them, and so on.

Script knowledge develops from a variety of sources,

including the structuring of events by parents (Bruner,

1975) as well as television, films, and observation and

interaction with peers (Nelson, 1981). With experience,

children become increasingly able to abstract knowledge from

particular situations and apply this to acre general and

inclusive classes of situations. For example, a

preschooler's script for eating at a restaurant will be

likely to reflect a particular eating experience, for

example, "going to MacDonald's," while the scripts of

children in the third or fourth grade would be more likely

to reflect general restaurant-eating behaviors, for example,

ordering a meal, eating, paying for it, etc..

It has been suggested that when an individual encounters

a novel situation, one for which no script exists, he or she

will engage in a greater amount of conscious processing of

information, attending to relevant elements in the new

situation (Langer, 1978). Much the same phenomenon has been

discussed in terms of children's reactions to novel,

unscripted interaction situations (Nelson, 1981). In

children, the response to the situation may involve

reverting to an egocentric perspective (evidenced by the

use, e.g., of "inner speech"), disreqardinq the other

interactant's perspective, and displaying a variety of

behaviors unrelated to the interaction (Nelson, 1981).

Presumably, as these children encounter more and varied

social situations, their ability to apply abstracted script

knowledge will increase.

It is likely that children's acquisition of scripts

related to social anxiety and self-presentation situations

will progress with aqe from initial variable reactions to

these situations to application of scripted knowledge

abstracted from social experience. Typical responses to

social anxiety, short of actually withdrawing from the

situation, include averting one's eyes, talking less, and

feeling anxious. To the degree that older rather than

younger children have more established scripts about social

anxiety situations, their responses to items concerning an

actor in such a situation should be more accurate and

consistent. On the other hand, younger children's responses

to such items should be less accurate and more variable.

indicating a lack of any abstracted script knowledge with

regard to social anxiety situations.

In addition, it is possible that children's use of script

knowledge in analyzing social anxiety in others may


represent at least some degree of understanding of scripts

for self-presentational concerns in general. If this is the

case, this understanding should develop concurrently with

their self-understanding as it relates to social competence

and social behavior as described earlier.

There is no direct research on the development of

scripted knowledge of self-presentational behavior across a

number of settings. Darby and Schlenker (1982a), in a study

of children's understanding of apologies, did obtain results

suggesting that children as young as kindergarten do

recognize the functions apologies serve for actors who have

committed a transgression. For example, they rated an actor

who apologized as more forgiveable than an actor who did

not. They also recognized the influence of the degree of

the actor's responsibility for the incident by rating an

actor, say, with high versus low responsibility as more

deserving of punishment.

It is difficult to generalize this evidence for script

knowledge concerning apologies to other types of self-

presentational situations. It may be for example, that

being in situations calling for apologies is a common

occurrence for even very young children and being directed

by parents to apologize for a number of transgressions

enables children to learn the ins and outs of this script

fairly quickly. It is worth speculating that social anxiety

situations, though inevitably occurring during the early


childhood years, may be less common. As a result, a longer

period for the development of scripts relevant to these

situations was presumed, especially with regard to

children's appreciation of the dimensions (motivation and

ability) that are postulated to antecede this experience.

Anxiety and children

In attempting to assess the development of children's

understanding of social anxiety, it is important to discuss

the scope and nature of psychological investigations of

anxiety in childhood. There are unfortunately no studies on

the development of children's understanding of anxiety in

general and social anxiety in particular. There is,

however, a fairly large amount of work on childhood anxiety

from the perspectives of clinicians and educators which has

theoretical importance for the current study. It appears

from these perspectives that a major underlying process in

the kind of anxiety experiences of interest here is self-

confirmation through revealing aspects of the self to

significant others in real or imagined interaction. The

degree to which someone is consciously or unconsciously

apprehensive about self-confirmation seems to be directly

related to experiencing anxiety in one form or another. (It

is important to note that there are anxiety experiences

unrelated to the process of self-confirmation, and these

experiences, such as fear of liqhteninq, are not included in

the present study.)

From the perspective of clinical psychology and child

psychiatry, anxiety is most often viewed as psychological

distress resulting from unresolved developmental conflicts

(Shaw, 1978). Developmental conflicts are viewed in terms

of Freudian psychodynamics in which children are confronted

with progressive conflicts between internal psychological

and biological needs and external pressures from primarily

parents. These conflicts vary in substance from those

surrounding oral and anal needs to those involving sexual

identification with parents. Presumably, a mature adult

personality is formed by successful resolution of these

conflicts. The child's ego develops through this process of

conflict and conflict resolution, forming effective

mechanisms to deal with conflicts arising from the clash

between internal wishes and needs and external or societal

constraints. These defense mechanisms in most individuals

represent effective strategies for dealing with conflict,

but for persons less sophisticated in resolving

developmental conflicts, the defense mechanisms can become

exaqqerated and produce symptoms associated with neurotic

reactions. For example, an acute depressive neurosis in

childhood usually represents a developmental failure in the

child's ability to overcome a severe trauma (e.g., loss of a

parent) and is evidenced by loss of self-esteem and

withdrawal from social interaction (Shaw, 1978). In this

case, the process of self-confirmation is stunted by an


apprehension of interaction based on fear of reliving the


In many ways the self and its social development are

reflected in work in childhood psychopathology dealing with

psychoneurotic disorders in general and anxiety and

depressive reactions in particular (Shaw, 1978). For

example, the self may experience anxiety resulting from

ineffective and unrewarding social interactions with

significant others and, if the conflict goes unresolved, the

self may construct a chronic depressive neurosis to shield

itself from future trauma. A chronically depressed child

is, in a sense, one whose self has not had a history of

successful interaction and self-ccnfirmation. This child

has resolved his or her anxiety through withdrawal from

social interaction in much the same way as an individual

experiencing transient social anxiety may seek to withdraw

from the interaction. The role of the self in both

pathological and nonpatholoqical anxiety experiences seems

to be preeminent.

Given the critical role of the self and self-

understanding in the experience of anxiety, it is

conceivable that an individual's level of social-coqnitive

development and self-understanding would relate directly to

the individual's understanding of anxiety in others.

Although there is no work in the clinical literature on

children's perceptions of anxiety in others, it was presumed

that, if a child is fairly sophisticated in his or her

understanding of the self in social settings, then he or she

would perhaps more readily recognize the experience of

anxiety in others.

Measures of childhood anxiety almost invariably include

items related to children's reactions to social situations

(Magnusson & Ekehammar, 1975; Penny 6 McCann, 1964; Sarason,

Davidson, Liqhthall, Waite, & Ruebush, 1960; Scherer &

Nakamura, 1968). Recall that Magnusson and Ekehammar, in a

dimensional analysis of their Inventory of Reactions to

Situations, found two types of situations that directly

involve people's reactions to social situations: threat of

punishment and ego threat. These situations vault the self

and the process of self-ccnfirmaticn to prominence under the

prospects of revealing self-relevant information to

evaluative others. In a study of the scope and nature of

children's fears, Miller, Barrett, and Hampe (1972) factor

analyzed the responses of children aged 6 to 16 on the

Louisville Fear Survey (Scherer & Nakamura, 1968). They

found three factors: (1) fear of physical injury, (2) fear

of natural and supernatural dangers, such as storms and

darkness, and (3) psychic stress, including fear of being

criticized, making mistakes, social events, making others

angry, and performing for others (Miller et al., 1972). The

dimension of psychic stress again points to the salience of

self-presentational concerns and their relation to the

anxiety experience. Also, while fear of natural and

supernatural dangers diminishes with age, fear of physical

injury and psychic distress appear early and remain anxiety-

provoking throughout childhood and adolescence.

Along with psychologists, educators have shown great

interest in childhood anxiety (see, e.g., Wade, 1981). The

focus of research in educational settings has primarily been

on the relationship between levels of state anxiety and

children's academic performance. Typically in these

studies, a scale is administered to assess children's levels

of test anxiety (e.g., the Test Anxiety Scale for Children,

Sarason et al., 1958) and subsequent measures of academic

attainment are taken (e.g., Gaudry & Fitzgerald, 1971;

Spielberger, 1962). The results of such studies suggest

that the effect of anxiety, particularly test anxiety, is

somewhat variable, showing some children high on test

anxiety scoring higher on tests, with other children high on

test anxiety scoring lower on performance (Gaudry &

Fitzgerald, 1971). In a recent study, Wade (1981) combined

measures of test anxiety with measures of a student's

ability and achievement motivation and looked at their

effects on performance. The results indicated the complex

way in which anxiety interacts with these other factors to

affect performance, showing, for example, higher levels of

attainment for highly anxious, motivated, and able students

than for highly anxious, low motivated, and highly able


students (Wade, 1981). The work on performance anxiety is

relevant to the extent the individual is implicitly

confronted with evaluation from another but limited by not

focusing on the evaluative nature of the performance as a

precursor to the anxiety experience. Furthermore, no

research has directly investigated possible developmental

trends in children's understanding of the self-

presentational issues involved in social anxiety.

Taken together, work on childhood anxiety from both the

clinical and nonclinical perspectives has relevance for the

current study because of the implicit reference to social

psychological processes involved in social anxiety. With

regard to conceptualizing social anxiety, these perspectives

at least give credence to the importance of the evaluative

nature of the social environment in producing anxiety

experiences. Also, these perspectives point to the

usefulness of postulating processes of self-presentation in

evaluating the anxiety experience.

Overview and hypotheses

The purpose of the present research was to investigate

the nature and development of children's understanding of

social anxiety in others. Presumably, this understanding

advances through stages during childhood represented by

qualitatively different knowledge systems cr schemas about

the role of the self in social interaction. Specifically, a

major goal was to uncover the different schemas used by

children of different ages in evaluating actors in

situations that inherently involve self-presentational

concerns, in this case, concerns revolving around the

experience of social anxiety.

In order to achieve these goals, definitions and

propositions dealing with self-presentation and social

anxiety have been used to conceptually position the self and

processes of self-understanding squarely in the focus of

social interaction. There are many instances in which

individuals feel insecure and anxious about the portent of

projecting self-relevant images to others. The aversive

state associated with this low assessment of one's

expectations of a successful self-presentation is at the

heart of social anxiety.

Children from the second, fourth, and seventh grades

participated in the present study by analyzing stories

involving actors in two types of social situations. The

actors were shown with varying degrees of motivation to

impress an audience and varying levels of ability to do so.

They were depicted in both contingent and noncontinqent

interactions (making a friend and acting in a play).

children were asked to judge each story character's

experience, for example, assessing how nervous, worried,

shy, and uneasy the character was and how likely he or she

was to act awkwardly, avoid eye contact, and have trouble



Based on the theories and research discussed heretofore,

it was predicted that

a. A story character presented as being highly motivated

to impress an audience and as low in ability to do so would

be rated as most socially anxious (nervous, worried, uneasy,

and shy). The character rated least socially anxious would

be one who was low in motivation and high in ability. If

subjects accurately track the experience of social anxiety

in others, interactions between motivation and ability would

be produced in line with propositions made by the model.

b. Highly motivated actors with low outcome expectancies

would be rated as more anxious in the noncontingent versus

contingent interaction setting. This would be due to the

increased concerns over the evaluations of a larger audience

and the presumed novelty of these situations for many

school-age children.

c. Due to older children's preference for effort

information in ascribing causes for success or failure and

younger children's preference for past performance

information, older children, who rate an actor as socially

anxious, would cite motivation as the major reason for the

anxiety, while younger children would cite past performance

as the major reason.

d. Older children would be more likely to judge both

actor's motivation and perceived expectancies as important

determinants of social anxiety, while younger children would


probably cite only one as important. This would be due to

older children's recognition of the influence of more than

one cause in producing behavior.

e. Older children would predict decreasing successful

outcomes for increasing social anxiety in actors. Younger

children would be less likely to make this differentiation,

predicting actor success for obtaining the self-

presentational goal, for the most part, at the same level

across all conditions.

f. As ratings of social anxiety increase, children would

predict the actor would probably have trouble communicating,

maintain less eye contact with the otherss, be more

nervous, worried, shy, uneasy, feel less sure about

him/herself, and try to do things to get the audience to

like him/her.

q. Older children would be more consistent than younger

children in their recognition of the relationship between

increasing social anxiety and the measures of an actor's

behavior and affective responses.

h. Older children would rate insecure actors as more

socially anxious and be more pessimistic about the actor's

success in the interaction than would younger children.

i. Older children would be more consistent than younger

children in responses to items assessing their knowledge of

the recursive nature of thinking.



Subjects were obtained from three elementary schools and

two middle schools in Gainesville: Glen Springs Elementary

School, Marjorie K. Rawlings Elementary School, P.K. Yonqe

Laboratory School, Lincoln Middle School, and Fort Clarke

Middle School. Names were obtained of children in three

grade groups: second grade, fourth grade, and seventh

grade. The names were provided by the principals and staff

of the schools and informed consents were gathered from

parents. Because of concern over possible response bias by

nine respondents (5 2nd graders and 4 4th graders), their

data was excluded from the study. As a result, data from

202 subjects was used in the study: 93 second graders (40

males, 53 females; average age 7.30), 65 fourth graders (27

males, 38 females; average age 9.41), and 44 seventh graders

(22 males, 22 females; average age 12.47).


Two vignettes were written, each depicting an actor (Dale

or Sandy) in a setting that could cause the actor social

anxiety. Each actor was described as a student in the same

grade and of the same sex as the subject.

One vignette (see Appendix A) portrays an actor, Dale, in

contingent interaction with a classmate with the focus being

on making friends with the classmate. As discussed

earlier, interaction anxiety is a potential outcome of this

kind of situation. Dale is shown waiting after school for

the school bus when he/she notices a classmate standing

alone. The classmate looks at Dale and Says, "Hello." The

stage is then set for subjects to assess Dale's possible

reactions to the situation.

The second vignette portrays an actor, Sandy, in a

noncontingent interaction with the goal of performing in a

play before an audience of classmates. Audience anxiety is

the possible outcome of this situation. Sandy is shown

along with an audience of classmates waiting for the play

and his/her performance to begin. At this point subjects

are asked to assess Sandy's responses to the setting.

Cross-cutting the contingent/noncontinqent

classification, the actors are portrayed as having either

low or high motivation to impress the otherss. For

example, Dale either likes the classmate and wants very much

to be friends with him/her (high motivation) or Dale neither


likes nor dislikes the classmate and does not really care

whether or not they become friends (low motivation).

Likewise, Sandy either wants very much for the classmates

to like his/her acting (high motivation) or Sandy does not

really care whether his performance is a success or failure

(low motivation). In addition to the manipulation of the

actor's motivation, the actor is depicted as having either

high or low ability to successfully perform in the

interaction, i.e., low or high ability to make friends for

Dale and low or high ability to act in the play for Sandy.

For example, Dale either has been able to make friends

easily in the past and thinks he/she can make friends in the

current situation (high ability) or has had difficulty

making friends in the past, and doubts his/her ability to

make friends in this case (low ability). In similar

fashion, Sandy is shown with a record of past success acting

and confidence about the current performance (high ability)

or with a record of past failure at acting and a lack of

confidence about the upcoming performance (low ability). By

crossing these factors of motivation and ability it was

possible to see whether children of different ages related

them in predicting an actor's social anxiety in ways

proposed by Schlenker and Leary (1982).

Each subject was presented with both the contingent and

noncontinqent vignettes in counterbalanced order. In both

vignettes the same combination of actor motivation and actor

ability was presented. Which combination a particular

subject received was determined by random assignment of

subjects to conditions prior to the sessions. The 2 X 2 X 2

factorial design, then, had two between-subjects factors

(motivation and ability) and one within-subjects factor

(type of interaction--continqent/noncontingent).

Subjects participated individually in sessions of

approximately 20 minutes in length. Eight experimenters

(one male, seven females) were trained in the experimental

procedure and each experimenter was randomly assigned names

of subjects to interview. The experimenter introduced the

task as one involving listening to a couple of short

stories, then answering questions about the stories and the

people in them. Subjects were made to feel as comfortable

as possible and assured that the procedure was in no way a

test, with no "riqht" or "wronq" answers. The experimenter

then familiarized the subject with the answering device to

be used when responding to questions. This device was

constructed using a poster-board and drawing a 10-point

scale on it so as to convey an ascending dimension from 0 to

9. During practice with the device, subjects were

instructed that pointing to or responding with "0" indicated

"no" or "none at all," responding with "1" indicated

"slightly" or "just a little bit," and so forth to

responding with "9" indicating "yes," "extremely so," or "a

great deal." Subjects were asked trial questions in the


form, for example, "Do you like ice cream, and, if so, how

much do you like ice cream?" or "Do you like potatoes, and,

if so, how much do you like potatoes?" In pretraining,

questions were asked until subjects had responded across the

full length of the scale, i.e., made responses in the low,

medium, and high ranges.

Once subjects were familiar with the answering device and

comfortable with the experimental situation, the

experimenter read the vignettes to the subject, presenting

the order Dale-then-Sandy to half the subjects and the order

Sandy-then-Dale to the other half. For each vignette the

subject was presented with the introduction plus the

motivation/ability combination followed by the "prompt."

The prompt in Dale's story was "The classmate looks at Dale

and says, 'Hello,'" and in Sandy's story was "Everyone in

the audience (all Sandy's classmates) are waiting for the

play to begin." After a vignette was read, the experimenter

asked the subject if he or she had any questions about the

events of the story.

Following the reading of each vignette, the subjects were

first asked questions about Dale's or Sandy's goals and

expectations with regard to the situation. These

manipulation check items asked (1) whether and how much

Dale/Sandy wanted the classmates) to like him/her, (2)

whether and how much Dale wanted to become friends with the

classmate or Sandy wanted the classmates to like his/her


acting, (3) whether and the degree to which Dale and Sandy

think they will succeed in making friends and acting well,

respectively, and (4) whether and the degree to which Dale

and Sandy perceived themselves able to make friends and act

well, respectively. The subjects' responses to these and

all questions were recorded by the experimenter on a

protocol for that subject containing information about the

subject (sex, age, grade, and school), the vignettes, and

the questionnaires.

After obtaining responses to the manipulation check

items, the experimenter continued asking questions about

whichever vignette had just been read. The questionnaires

for both vignettes were matched itea-for-item, although the

wording was not identical due to the different story

contents. For example, the item for assessing the

subjects' predictions of the actor's success in the Dale

story read, "Do you think Dale will become friends with the

other classmate, and if so, how likely is it that they will

become friends?," while in the Sandy story the item read,

"Do you think the classmates will like Sandy's acting, and

if so, how much do you think they will like his/her

acting?" In addition to wording differences of the kind

this example illustrates, two items were asked following the

Dale story that were not asked following the Sandy story,

one asking if the subject thought Dale would talk to the

classmate and another asking if the subject thought Dale

would smile and be pleasant to the classmate. These

behavioral measures were considered pertinent to the content

of the Dale story and indicative of the more spontaneous

nature of the contingent interaction, while they would not

seen naturally occurring in the noncontinqent interaction as

depicted in the Sandy story.

During pilot-testing with subjects from all three grade

levels, the issue of attention-span was raised, given the

rather lengthy questionnaires and the inclusion of two

stories. The Dale questionnaire contained 25 items and the

Sandy questionnaire contained 23 items. It was feared that

at some point during the questioning, subjects, particularly

younger ones, might forget the content of the story just

read, become confused, and lose interest in accurate

responding. Although it did not seem to be a qlarinq

problem, the decision was made to stop questioning midway

through each questionnaire and to reread that particular

story. The stories were short enough so that rereading them

did not add any significant time to the session, and

hopefully, refreshing the subjects on the story content

maintained their interest and accuracy in responding.

The first question asked following the manipulation check

items was, "Does Dale/Sandy feel nervous, and if so, how

nervous does Dale/Sandy feel?" If a subject responded that

Dale/Sandy did feel nervous in the situation, then the

subject was asked two additional questions about the reasons

for the actor's nervousness. These additional questions

were designed to assess whether the subject thought the

major reason for the actor's being nervous was (1) fear of

being unable to achieve the interaction goal in the

situation (either making friends or performing well in the

play) or (2) because the actor was so motivated to achieve

the interaction goal. If the subject did not think the

actor was nervous respondingq with 0) these two questions

were omitted.

The remainder of the items dealt with subjects'

evaluations of the actor in relation to the events of the

story (e.g., does the actor feel uneasy, does the actor feel

sure about what he/she is doing, is the actor worried about

what the classmates) is(are) thinking of him/her?) as well

as more global judgments of the actor (e.g., is the actor a

shy person, a good or bad person, a happy or sad person, a

strong or weak person?). In addition, there were a number

of items dealing with behavioral responses the actors could

have made to the situations. For example, items asked

whether subjects thought the actors would succeed in either

making friends or acting well, whether the actors would

have trouble communicating with the classmatess, whether

the actors would act awkwardly, fidget or squirm, and

whether the actor would maintain or avoid eye-contact with

the others. Also, items asked if subjects thought the actors

would try to do things to get the classmates) to like them,


whether the classmates) did indeed like them, and whether

the subjects would themselves like them. Finally, subjects

were asked how good or bad they were at making friends and

at acting.

Once both vignettes and questionnaires had been

administered, subjects were asked if they had any questions

about the procedures used in the study. At this time,

experimenters explained to subjects the nature of the

research in terms understandable to children, and

experimenters asked subjects questions about their own

experiences in social situations such as making friends and

acting in a play. The responses to these questions were not

obtained for the sake of analysis, but rather to disenqaqe

the subject from the experimental session. Subjects were

asked not to discuss the research with any of their

classmates. Finally, they were thanked for their assistance

in the research and taken back to their classroom.


Before sending experimenters into the field, the

protocols used in the study were pilot tested on five

children from each of the three grades (2nd, 4th, and 7th).

From this and from discussions with teachers of students in

these grades, it was determined that the stories used and

the questionnaires were appropriate to the ages of children


Data were gathered on characteristics of the subjects

(including sex, age, grade, and school attended) and each

subject's responses to the two questionnaires (one following

the contingent vignette, the other following the

noncontingent vignette). Initial analysis revealed no

consistent effects of sex of subject or school attended and

will not be discussed further.

The analyses to follow deal with data gathered in

response to the questionnaires following both vignettes. As

mentioned, the questionnaires were not identical, with the

one following the contingent (Dale) vignette containing two

more items than the one following the noncontingent (Sandy)

vignette. Because "situation type" is treated as a within-

subjects factor, the two additional items from the Dale

questionnaire (numbers 12 and 14) are analyzed separately.

Otherwise the items beginning with number 1 from each

questionnaire are treated as repeated measures, for example,

Dale 1 = Sandy 1, ..., Dale 13 = Sandy 12, Dale 15 = Sandy

13, ..., Dale 25 = Sandy 23. Subjects responses to these

questionnaires were analyzed as they were affected by grade

of subject, level of actor's motivation-and level of the

actor's ability. As a result, the reported analyses deal

with a 3 (second/fourth/seventh grade) X 2 (low/high

motivation) X 2 (low/high ability) X 2

(continqent/noncontingent interaction) factorial design,

with grade, motivation, and ability as between-subjects

factors. Given unequal cell sizes, an unweighted-means

analysis of variance was employed unless otherwise


Manipulation Checks

Motivation Manipulation

The first question asked following the reading of each

vignette was "Does Dale/Sandy want the classmates) to like

him/her, and if so, how much does Dale/Sandy want the

classmate to like him/her?" An analysis of variance on this

item revealed a main effect of motivation, E (1,188) =

100.07, E < .001, indicating that subjects rated the actors

in the low motivation condition as significantly less

i The number of subjects serving in each cell of the design
may be found in Appendix B.

wanting to be liked (M = 6.10) than actors in the high

motivation condition ([I = 8.51). Thus, the manipulation

produced the desired effect. While this is so, it is

important to note the range of means produced by the

manipulation (6.10 to 8.51). This range clearly indicates

that even in the low motivation condition, subjects rated

actors as somewhat motivated to impress the others) in the

story. The fact that there was no clear differentiation

between low and high motivation suggests that the observed

relationship between motivation and ability is probably


Further results on this item included a significant main

effect of ability, F (1,188) = 7.20, < .008, qualified by

significant interactions between motivation and ability(F

(1,188) = 4.66, p < .04) and situation and ability (P

(1,188) = 4.18, 2 < .05). The main effect showed low

ability actors as less desirous of liking than high ability

actors (H's = 6.98 and 7.81, respectively). This effect of

ability, however, seemed to be evident only in the low

motivation condition (A's in this condition = 6.68 and 5.51,

respectively, for high and low ability; M's in high

motivation condition = 8.58 and 8.45, respectively for hig

and low ability). In addition, the effect produced by

2 As described throughout these results, main effects,
rather than interactions, are produced involving these
factors. While the main effects are consistent with the
predicted relationship, the restricted range of
manipulation means produced few indications of the
multiplicative relationship.

ability appeared to reside in the performance (Sandy or

noncontinqent) situation such that high ability actors in

this situation were seen as wanting to be liked more than

low ability actors (M's = 7.99 and 6.94, respectively).

Furthermore, given high ability, an actor in the performance

situation was rated as more desirous of liking than a

similarly able actor in the friendship (Dale or contingent)

situation (M's = 7.99 and 7.28, respectively).

A closely related item asked subjects to rate the degree

to which Dale wanted to become friends with the classmate

and Sandy wanted the classmates to like his/her acting.

This was a measure of how motivated subjects felt the actors

were to obtain their specific interaction goals. The

results were strikingly similar to the previous item,

showing a significant main effect for motivation, F (1,188),

100.87, p < .001, with highly motivated actors rated as more

wanting to achieve their interaction goals than low

motivated actors (M's = 8.38 and 5.85, respectively). Also,

as was the case in the prior item a significant main effect

of ability emerged F (1,188) = 11.49, 2 < .001, such that

more able actors were perceived as more highly motivated

(M's = 7.55 and 6.69, respectively). Likewise, actors in

the performance versus friendship situation were rated as

more motivated (main effect of situation, j (1,188) = 5.31,

p < .03; M's = 7.44 and 6.90, respectively). This effect

was qualified by a significant situation X grade


interaction, P (1,188) = 5.40, p < .006, showing that actors

in the performance versus friendship story were seen as more

motivated, but only as rated by second graders (simple main

effect of situation at second grade, F (1,188) = 18.24, j <

.05; see Table 1).


Subjects' Ratings of Actors' Motivation to Achieve Their
Interaction Goals as a Function of Grade and Situation


Grade Friendship Performance

Second 6.60ab 7.86ac

Fourth 7.46b 7.32

Seventh 6.59 6.87c

Note. Means sharing a common subscript differ by < .05.

Ability Manipulation

Subjects were asked to rate (1) the degree to which

actors were confident of achieving the goal in the story

makingq a friend/acting in the play) and (2) how skillful in

these situations the actors perceived themselves to be

(items 3 and 4). On both items the ability manipulation

produced the desired effect as revealed in a significant

ability main effect, F (1,188) = 86.46. p < .0001, and F

(1,188) = 242.09, 2 < .0001, respectively. The means for

the first of these items showed that actors portrayed as

able were rated as being more confident than less able

actors of succeeding in this particular setting (.'Ns = 7.07

and 4.20, respectively). Subjects' ratings of the actors'

self-perceptions of general ability (in making friends and

acting) varied with the ability manipulation (g's = 3.49,

and 7.43, for low and high ability, respectively). In

addition, actors shown to be highly motivated were rated as

more confident than less motivated actors shown by a

motivation main effect, F (1,188) = 14.87, p < .0002 (S's =

6.19 and 4.94, respectively).

Analysis of Questioanaire

Measures of Anxiety


Subjects were asked to evaluate how worried the actors

were about what the classmates) were thinking of him or

her. It was expected that the effects of motivation and

ability on anxiety would be in line with predictions based

on the model. For example, these factors were proposed to

interact to affect measures of social anxiety. While no

motivation X ability interaction was obtained, the results

were consistent with predictions in terms of the importance

of motivation and ability in affecting responses and the

rank order of means. A motivation main effect was revealed,

F (1,188) = 10.36, p < .002, along with a motivation X grade

interaction, F (2,188) = 4.78, E < .01 (see Table 2). In

line with predictions, the means for the main effect showed

highly motivated actors as more worried than less motivated

actors. A breakdown of the interaction revealed that highly

motivated rather than less motivated actors were rated as

more worried by fourth and seventh graders. Also, given

high motivation, fourth and seventh graders rated the actor

as more worried than did second graders (see Table 2).

These grade differences also produced a main effect of grade

F (2,188) = 5.08, p < .008. These results suggests that

older children may be more aware of the evaluative nature of

situations such as the ones portrayed here.

As expected, the more able actor was rated as less

worried than the less able actor (F (1,188) = 8.64, p <

.004; _Ms for high and low ability are 4.62 and 5.72,


There was some support obtained, however, for the

predicted multiplicative effects of motivation and ability

in a significant four-way interaction of situation X grade X

motivation X ability, F (2,188) = 4.08, p < .02. Although a

breakdown of this interaction revealed few significant

simple effects not evident in the effects discussed so far,

the pattern of means suggested that, for example, the


Subjects' Ratings cf How Worried the Actors were
as a Function of Grade and Motivation


Grade Low High Overall

Second 4.72 4.49ab 4.60

Fourth 5.02c 6.31ac 5.65

Seventh 4.76d 6.83bd 5.84

Overall 4.83e 5.58e

Note. Means sharing a common subscript differ by R < .05.

highest rating of worry was made for an actor low in ability

and high in motivation, and this seemed to be most

pronounced in the performance scenario for all grades and in

the friendship scenario for seventh graders (see Table 3).

Also in line with the model the least worry was assigned to

actors who were highly able but less motivated, with the

exception of second graders in the friendship scenario.

Soie support was obtained for the speculation that a

noncontingent interaction may produce more concern over an

audience's evaluation than may be produced by a contingent

interaction. A main effect of situation, F (1,188) = 13.45,


Subjects' Ratings of How worried Actors Were as a
Function of Situation, Grade, Motivation, and Ability

Friendship/2nd Grade

Performance/2nd Grade

Motivation Motivation

Ability Low High Low High

Low 4.30 3.72 5.61 6.48

High 4.57b 1.95b 4.38 4.58

Friendship/4th Grade Performance/4th Grade

Motivation Motivation

Ability Low High Low High

Low 5.47a 5.33 5.84d 8.07cd

High 2.64a 6.06 5.64 5.89c

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