Peer relations and body-image maturity in children
Hulek, Jane Elizabeth
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This study was based upon a general proposition derived from psychoanalytic theory that there would be associations of interpersonal aspects of object relations with body-image concepts and with learning provided chronological age and mental ability were controlled. Hypotheses were investigated in latency children at one developmental level by means of testing a differential association of relative isolation-nearness in peer relationships with maturity of body image as projected in human-figure drawings. Standardized measures of isolationnearness were constructed from sociometric criteria rated by peers within classrooms. Body-image-maturity measures were derived from ratings of serial human-figure drawings: Goodenough drawing mental age; and quality and integration on a composite error-distortion-omission (CEDO) scale constructed for this study. Mental ability and learning were measured by median scores on standardized group tests: Kuhlmann-Anderson and Stanford school achievement, respectively. The experimental sample consisted of 117 third-grade pupils (57 boys, 60 girls) constituting five classrooms from urban public schools situated in neighborhoods of differing but largely middle-class socioeconomic status. Three classrooms were homogeneous in religious affiliation. Mean mental ability was high average. Drawing media were free choice of crayons and pencil following experimentation in a group of 160 second-through-fourth-grade children: correlations ranged above .92 between Goodenough scoring of man-drawings in crayon only and in pencil only. Predictions called for various correlational analyses of the six major variables. Findings substantiated the prediction that subject selection at one developmental level would control effects of chronological age. Findings substantiated the prediction of an association of body-image concepts and isolation-nearness. Drawing quality was a better predictor of isolation-nearness than was drawing mental age. Despite significant associations between the drawing scales, when chronological age and mental age were held constant, there were no longer any significant associations of isolation-nearness and drawing mental age, whereas associations of isolation-nearness and drawing quality were significant at better than the .01 level in both sexes. There were sex differences in drawing quality and in relationships among variables. Drawing mental age fell below mental ability in boys and exceeded mental ability in girls, suggesting that developmental norms may need restandardizing by sex. Photographs of drawings of 3 pairs of cases matched for sex, chronological age, and mental age, but of contrasting sociometric status, illustrated the better quality drawings associated with greater nearness in peer relationships. Findings substantiated the prediction of an association of body-image concepts and learning to a limited degree. The positive association of drawing mental age and school achievement was significant only in sexes combined. Drawing quality and achievement were positively associated in boys, but not in girls. However, higher mental ability and better drawing quality were more highly associated in boys than in girls. There were positive associations between nearness in peer relationships and achievement in both sexes, but isolation-nearness bettered the prediction of achievement beyond that made by mental ability only in sexes combined. It was suggested that hypotheses concerning learning and body-image concepts be tested using larger numbers of seriously underachieving children than were in this sample. Conclusions were: drawing quality was the most sensitive index of relative isolation-nearness in peer relationships; a qualitative assessment of human-figure drawings is relevant to understanding the social functioning of the third-grade child; the association of better quality and integration in human-figure drawings with greater nearness in object relations strengthens the hypothesis of body-image projection in human-figure drawings.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University.
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