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Hart,etal1998 - Journal of Personality and Social...

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Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1998, Vol. 74, No. 5, 1278-1289 Copyright 1998 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 0022-3514/98/$3.0O Childhood Personality Influences on Social-Cognitive Development: A Longitudinal Study Daniel Hart Rutgers University Monika Keller, Wolfgang Edelstein, and Volker Hofmann Max Planck Institute for Education and Human Development The relation of childhood personality to the development of friendship understanding and moral judgment in adolescence was considered in a longitudinal study. Personality at age 7, assessed with the California Child Q-Set, was characterized in terms of ego-resiliency and ego-control. IQ and social class were also measured. Friendship understanding was assessed when the participants were ages 7, 9, 12, 15, and 19, and moral judgment was elicited when the participants were 12, 15, and 19. Ego-resiliency was found to predict social-cognitive development in adolescence, even after the effects of IQ and childhood measures of social-cognitive development were controlled for. Analyses indicate that the effects of ego-resiliency on social-cognitive development are largely unmediated by the ability to focus attention or by social participation. Individual differences in the understanding of friendship and moral judgment, the two domains of social cognitive develop- ment considered in this study, are likely to result in part from the influence of personality characteristics. Personality factors may affect social cognitive development by influencing the indi- vidual's view of the social world and the benefit derived from exposure to development-facilitating social interaction (Hart & Schmiel, 1992). In this longitudinal study of children followed into adolescence, we demonstrate that one personality trait, ego- resiliency, is related to the development of friendship under- standing and moral judgment over the course of childhood and adolescence. We also assess two more specific traits (social participation and attention-focusing skill) in order to identify their role in mediating the influence of ego-resiliency on social- cognitive development. J. Block (e.g., J. Block, 1971; J. H. Block & J. Block, 1980) has proposed that personality from childhood through early adulthood can be usefully characterized in terms of two broad traits: ego-control and ego-resiliency. Ego-control refers to the "degree of impulse control and modulation" (J. H. Block & J. Block, 1980, p. 41) characterizing the individual. Ego control Daniel Hart, Department of Psychology, Rutgers University; Monika Keller, Wolfgang Edelstein, and Volker Hofmann, Center of Development and Socialization, Max Planck Institute for Education and Human Devel- opment, Berlin, Germany. This research is part of Project Child Development and Social Struc- ture, which is being carried out by the Center of Development and Socialization at the Max Planck Institute for Education and Human Development in Berlin, Germany, under the direction of Wolfgang Edelstein. This project was facilitated in part by a study grant from the
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