Translating Social Motivation Into Action: Contributions of Need for Approval to Children's Social Engagement

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Abstract

This research examined how children's need for approval (NFA) from peers predicted social behavior (prosocial behavior, aggression, and social helplessness) and peer responses (acceptance, victimization, exclusion). Children (N = 526, mean age = 7.95, standard deviation = .33) reported on NFA and teachers reported on social engagement. Approach NFA (motivation to gain approval) predicted more positive engagement and less conflictual engagement and disengagement. Conversely, avoidance NFA (motivation to avoid disapproval) predicted less positive engagement and more conflictual engagement and disengagement. Some results differed by gender. This study suggests that social motivation contributes to children's peer relationships, providing a specific target for interventions to optimize social health.

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