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Social cue differentiation and social perception: Training mentally retarded adolescents to understand social situations

Simpson, John Henry (1982) Social cue differentiation and social perception: Training mentally retarded adolescents to understand social situations. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Social perception was conceived as comprising the skills of role-taking, understanding what the other person is thinking or feeling, and social inference, the making of inferences from a total social environment. Eighty mentally retarded adolescents were randomly allocated to one of five groups, three intervention groups and two control groups. In the three intervention groups subjects were trained to differentiate and interpret social cues emitted either from the faces of other people, from social situations or from both of these sources. In one of the control groups subjects were trained in fine motor skills associated with sheltered workshop activities. In the second control group subjects remained in the classrooms and pursued their normal school activities.

The intervention programmes were based on the assumption that training in the differentiation and understanding of both facial and situational social cues would facilitate not only an improvement in the subject's role-taking and social inferencing behaviour in limited settings but also transfer into a global social situation.

Four instruments were administered as pre-test and post-test measures. The Role-taking Task Test (Feffer, 1970) and the Test of Social Inference (Edmonson, de Jung, Leland and Leach, 1974) were employed as criterion measures of role-taking competence and social inference making respectively. The Facial Affect Expression Test (Simpson, 1979) was used as a measure of the subject’s accuracy in judging emotions expressed facially. The Social Reaction Video Test (Simpson, 1980) was designed to measure the transfer of skills to a global social situation.

All the intervention programme groups showed significantly greater improvement on the measures of role-taking competence and social inference making than each of the control groups. Subjects trained in the differentiation and understanding of facial cues showed the greatest improvement while subjects trained in the differentiation and understanding of situational cues showed the least improvement. For none of the groups was there evidence of transfer of the social cue differentiation skills they had acquired to the global social situation.

The implications of training mentally retarded adolescents in social cue differentiation skills and the problems of generalisation are discussed in terms of the programmes and measures used, needed research, theory and classroom practice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: repository@murdoch.edu.au. Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Straton, Ralph and Lawrence, Jeanette
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/51387
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