Date of Award

Fall 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Kaugars, Astrida S.

Second Advisor


Third Advisor

Franzoi, Stephen


Self-representations, such as self-efficacy, are salient factors in child development. Self-efficacy refers to the child's estimation of his/her ability to successfully complete a given task. Self-efficacy develops as children attempt various tasks and receive feedback about their performance. Social self-efficacy, one dimension of self-efficacy, refers to a child's estimation of his/her ability to form and maintain interpersonal relationships. Previous research has demonstrated a relationship between child self-efficacy and parent-child interaction variables. Social cognition refers to the manner in which children interpret and analyze social behavior. Social cognition develops through children's interactions with important others and may be related to social self-efficacy in that it allows children to create expectations about the reactions of others and the outcomes of their own behavior. The present study will examine the development of social self-efficacy and social cognition in the context of the parent-child relationship.

Children ages 8 to 10 and their parents participated in the present study. Parents and children completed self-report measures assessing social self-efficacy, parenting style, and self-esteem. Parent and child social cognition was measured using the Social Cognition and Object Relations Scale-Revised (SCORS-R), which is a structured method of coding responses to the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). Ratings were made for four social cognitive scales: Complexity of Representations of People, Affective Quality of Relationships, Capacity for Emotional Investment in Relationships, and Understanding of Social Causality.

There was a moderate, positive correlation between parent social self-efficacy and child social self-efficacy. These effects were maintained while controlling for the influence of parent global self-esteem. Additionally, there was a strong, positive correlation between parent and child scores for Affective Quality of Relationships. A hierarchical multiple regression model containing child gender, age, and sociocognitive scores, and parent social self-efficacy scores predicted a significant amount of the variance in child social self-efficacy scores.

The current study demonstrates a statistically significant relationship between parent social self-efficacy and child social self-efficacy. Significant differences between parent and child sociocognitive scores suggest a developmental trajectory of sociocognitive skills. The results of the present study may contribute to a better understanding parental influence on child social self-efficacy and social cognition.