Communicative Competency in Middle Childhood: An Analysis of the Social Discourse of Popular and Rejected Third and Sixth Grade Children

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Child Study Journal






State University of New York

Publication Date



Two hundred-forty white, rural, third and sixth grade children were sociometrically defined as either popular, amiable, isolated, or rejected. Forty-eight target children were selected from this group for further study. This involved 12 popular children (6 boys and 6 girls) and 12 rejected children (6 boys and 6 girls) from both grades. The subjects were paired with same sex children in two ways. The children were matched for achievement with a child whom they had chosen as a friend and who had also chosen the target child as a friend on a sociometric questionnaire. They were matched for achievement with a sociometrically defined "amiable" child (referred to as the nonfriend) whom the target child had neither selected nor rejected on his/her sociometric form.

The children were video-taped during a free-play task. Their conversations were transcribed and analyzed through a 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 6 split, split plot with sub-unit treatments in a Latin Square. Utterance density was significantly different between sociometric status with those children defined as popular speaking more often than those defined as rejected. Physical proximity was significant for sex by grade with third grade girls interacting closer to each other than any other group. Friends touched the target child significantly more often than nonfriends. The utterances of the target child contingent on the utterances of the match were examined and several significant utterance sequences were noted.

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