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01-09-2015 | Uitgave 3/2015

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 3/2015

The Calculation of Discrepancy Scores in the Context of Biased Self-Perceptions of Acceptance

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment > Uitgave 3/2015
Haley F. Stephens, Janet A. Kistner, Rebecca J. Lynch


Children's biased self-perceptions of social acceptance have been linked to increased aggressive and depressive symptoms. The examination of biased self-perceptions as a risk factor for negative socio-emotional outcomes is an important line of research but inconsistency exists within the field regarding which method of difference score calculation (i.e., difference or residual scores) is used to quantify the degree to which a person holds biased self-perceptions. This study compared the methods on three issues: 1) the extent to which the methods agree about which participants hold biased self-perceptions; 2) the strength of the estimated relationship between biased-self perceptions of social acceptance and socio-emotional outcomes (i.e., aggression and depressive symptoms); 3) the strength of those same estimated relationships while controlling for a potentially confounding variable (actual social acceptance). Data from a previously published study (David and Kistner Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology: An Official Publication of the International Society for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, 28(4), 327–337, 2000) of 871 third through fifth grade students who completed measures of their depressive symptoms as well as their own, and their peers', social acceptance and aggression, was used in the present study. Results showed the difference and residual methods demonstrated moderate agreement regarding bias classification. The difference method correlated more strongly with aggression than did the residual method. Conversely, the residual method correlated more strongly with depressive symptoms than did the difference method. Once actual social acceptance was added to the difference score prediction model the methods became equivalent in their associations with both outcomes. Implications regarding the importance of statistically controlling for the actual social acceptance component of the bias score are discussed.

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