An exploration of possible moderators between level of adversity and social perception among 9-11 year old children experiencing homelessness.

Saturday, March 24, 2018
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Homelessness and residential mobility affects roughly 2.5 million children every year and has been repeatedly linked to trauma and negative outcomes in key developmental domains including academic achievement, executive functioning, effortful control, emotional control, and social competence in children. This study investigated the impact of adverse events and sociodemographic risk on child perceptions of hostility in social situations in a sample of early adolescent children (9-11 years old) living in emergency homeless shelters. Social competence, including accuracy in interpreting others’ actions is generally linked to peer acceptance, emotional health, social adjustment, and higher psychological resilience. The sample consisted of 85 (46% female) children living in an emergency homeless shelter with their parent/caregiver. Family history, parent perceived child behavioral, emotional, and social functioning, and academic performance was assessed. Cumulative risk and adversity were measured utilizing the Life Events Questionnaire and the Life Time Events Questionnaires. Categories of stress related adversity was distinguished based on the valence of the event, discreteness of onset, and the child’s perceived control to influence the event. Social perception of hostility was assessed with 6 vignettes requiring the child to report their interpretation of the intent and actions of peers in the ambiguous stories. Preliminary analyses identified a number of significant relationships. Specifically, child hostile attributions were related to parent perceptions of peer acceptance (r = 0.324, p=0.001); cumulative risk was related to child experiences being bullied by peer (r = -0.301, p = 0.005) child experiences with relational aggression (r = 0.367, p = 0.001), and parent perceived child impulsivity (r = 0.366, p = 0.001). Preliminary analyses also indicated significant relationships between uncontrollable adversity and perceived child inattention (r = 0.300, p = 0.006), impulsivity (r = 0.347, p = 0.001), internalizing problems (r = 0.366, p = 0.001), and externalizing problems (r = 0.377, p < 0.001). Further analyses will test the hypothesized model that protective and vulnerability factors will moderate the effect of behavioral, emotional, and social functioning on the accuracy of social perceptions, controlling for general cognitive ability and level of adversity.

Alena Kryvanos

Alicia Travis