The effects of peer collaboration on the social reasoning skills of aggressive boys



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Texas Tech University


This study investigated the effect of peer collaboration on the social reasoning skills of 4th, 5th, and 6th grade overtly aggressive boys in the context of hypothetical instrumental and relational conflict situations. Overtly aggressive and average, nonaggressive boys were identified through a peer nomination measure. Two experimental groups were formed consisting of overtly aggressive/average dyads and average/average dyads. A pretest-posttest design was implemented to examine the effects of peer collaboration on the social reasoning skills of participants in these two experimental groups. Social reasoning skills were assessed with the Interpersonal Negotiations Strategies (INS) Interview (Yeates, Schultz, & Selman, 1990). The participants' social goals and self-efficacy beliefs were assessed after each experimental session (pretest, collaboration, post-test). Both experimental groups produced improved INS scores in the context of relational peer conflict during the collaboration session. However, their improvements were not maintained through the posttest session. In contrast, neither dyad benefited from collaboration in the context of instrumental peer conflict. Examination of the relationship between social goals and INS scores revealed mixed findings, and the overtly aggressive boys and their average partners did not significantly differ in their endorsements on these measures. Both overtly aggressive boys and average boys strongly endorsed friendship and affiliation goals, and both groups of boys indicated that they would be good at accomplishing these goals. The implications of this study and directions for future research are discussed.