Social Problem Solving Scale


The Social Problem Solving Scale assesses the way a child resolves problems encountered in typical social settings with other children. The scale contains eight drawings of social situations with children. An interviewer elicits information from the child that expresses how the child would interact with the children in each picture. The interviewer records a code for the child's response. The code represents one of six response categories.

The drawings depict two types of social situations. Four of the situations show a solitary child who would like to join in an activity with other children. In these situations the child's task is to solicit social involvement. The other four drawings show a child who is being teased or frustrated by another child. In these situations the respondent's task is to resolve a social conflict. The drawings use stick figures so that race and gender are neutral.

The interviewer reads a script describing each social situation, and asks the respondent to take the role of one of the children in the drawing. The interviewer prompts the child for three responses to each situation.

Scoring is conducted as follows:

  1. The interviewer assigns the code for a response category to each verbal response for each picture. The categories and codes are: Aggressive (0), Competent (1), Authority-Punish (2), Authority-Intervene (3), Passive/Inept (4), Irrelevant/Other (5). If a response fits more than one category, it is assigned to the category with the lowest code number.
  2. The total number of valid responses for each picture is calculated. A valid response is a response that can be assigned to a category. Inept or irrelevant responses are valid. Repetitive responses are an example of invalid responses.
  3. The percent of responses in each category for each picture is calculated by dividing the number of responses in each category by the total number of valid responses. This calculation yields Picture response percentages.
  4. The mean of each response category percentage over the eight pictures is calculated to yield Mean-percentages across pictures.

T-tests of mean percentages across pictures (MPAs) show a significant difference between the normative and control groups for the Competent category and for the Authority/Punish category. Coefficient alphas are modest among the six categories. However, given that multiple interviewers administered the measure for year 2, and that the category assigned to each response is subject to the interviewer's judgment and interpretation, modest alphas are not surprising.

For the control sample, except for the Competent category, the distribution of each mean percentage across pictures is positively skewed, and kurtosis is high (between 6.0 and 25.1, except for Aggression). For the normative sample, the distribution of MPAs is positively skewed with high kurtosis (between 5.2 and 35.2) for all categories, also except for the Competent category. Several categories show high frequencies of zero MPA. In the Irrelevant category, 90% of MPAs are zero in both the normative and control groups. In the control group, 40% of MPAs in the Passive category are zero; and 44% in the Authority/Punitive category. In the normative group, 41% of the Intervention MPAs, 47% of the Passive MPAs, and 55% of Authority/Punish MPAs are zero.

As an estimate of difficulty, the mean number of responses per picture for the combined normative and control groups is in the table below. None of the eight pictures stands out as unusually difficult, compared to the other pictures.

Dataset Names

Raw Dataset Name: CyB
Scored Dataset Name: SPSySCc


Social Involvement, Conflict Resolution, Social Skills, Role Playing, Social Cognition