The Role of Beliefs About the Importance of Social Skills in Elementary Children's Social Behaviors and School Attitudes

Kyongboon Kwon, Elizabeth Moorman Kim, Susan M Sheridan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Background: Positive attitudes toward school have been suggested as a meaningful indicator of school engagement among elementary children. The current study was guided by a social cognitive developmental perspective which suggests that social cognitions, including beliefs, play an important role in children's adjustment outcomes. Objective: The present study examined the hypothesis that children's beliefs about the importance of social skills contribute to school attitudes through their effect on social behavior (i.e., social skills and aggression). The effect of gender was also examined as related to the mean levels of and associations among study constructs. Methods: Participants were third through fifth-grade students (N = 342) and their teachers (N = 22) from Midwestern rural communities of the United States. Child self-reports, peer nominations, and teacher ratings were gathered. Results: Children's beliefs about the importance of social skills were positively associated with social skills and positive school attitudes and were negatively associated with aggression. Beliefs about the importance of social skills were indirectly related to positive school attitudes via social behaviors (i.e., social skills, aggression). Gender differences were detected in the mean levels of study constructs but not in the associations among them. Conclusions: Findings suggest that children's beliefs about social skills are an important aspect of social cognition that has significant implications for children's social behavior and school adjustment. Specific ways in which the findings can inform educators and parents in supporting the development of children's beliefs about the importance of social skills are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-467
Number of pages13
JournalChild and Youth Care Forum
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014



  • Aggression
  • Beliefs about social skills
  • Elementary children
  • School attitudes
  • School engagement
  • Social skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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