The impact of relational schema-based expectations on the processing of social information
Aloian, Samuel D., Jr.
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The present study investigated the impact of relational schema based expectations on children's social interpretation and goals. Eighty-five sixth grade children were read a series of social vignettes describing negative situations. Children were asked their expectations of others' typical behavior in these situations. Children were then read three ambiguous negative events and asked to rate three interpretations and four goals corresponding to each event. Results indicated that children with positive relational schemas rate prosocial interpretations higher than children with negative relational schemas, who rated anti-social interpretations higher. Some evidence was found to suggest that children with positive relational schemas endorse more prosocial goals than children with negative relational schemas. Limited support was also found for the hypothesis that the quality of a child's relational schema and type of situation interact to influence children's social interpretations and goals. In sum, the present findings support the notion that relational schemas represent a specific type of latent social knowledge structure that biases specific aspects of children's social information processing.