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Social Information Processing and Antisocial Behaviour

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Social information-processing (SIP) describes the individual cognitive tasks which are involved in a child’s social interactions, and it is known that these impact on social adjustment (social experiences and evaluations by peers) (Crick & Dodge, 1994). In particular, social information-processing can help us understand more about an important subset of social experiences; antisocial and aggressive behaviour, and potentially aid in interventions to help socially maladjusted children alter their behaviour.

Crick and Dodge (1994) describe six steps in their reformulated social information-processing model of children’s social adjustment. The model assumes that a child enters any given social situation armed with their own set of innate, biologically limited capabilities, and a database of memories of previous experiences from their long term memory. The step six steps of processing are as follows: selective attention to and encoding of cues, both external (from peers) and internal (for example, raised heart rate); the interpretation of these cues, including attributions of cause and intent of peers; clarification and selection of a goal or desired outcome for the situation; accessing appropriate previously-used responses from long term memory, or constructing new ones in response to a novel situation; deciding on a response by evaluating outcome expectations, including appropriateness and ability (self-efficacy) to enact it; and finally, the enactment of the chosen behaviour. The reformulated model has the advantage over its predecessor (Dodge, 1986) of being cyclical and including feedback loops as opposed to having a rigid, linear structure. This acknowledges the idea that processing of multiple SIP activities can occur in par...

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