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The development of two instruments designed to assess person and thing orientation in children Holzmuller, Ana Luisa

Abstract

The purpose of the research reported here was the development of two paper-and-pencil instruments for the assessment of person-thing orientation in children. Interviews were conducted with 82 children who ranged in age from eight to 12 years. The interviews yielded two sets of descriptive statements, one set which pertained to the person domain and one set which pertained to the thing domain. The statements were rationally classified into content categories by three judges. The rational categories specified the universe of content to be sampled by the instruments and provided a quasi-empirical basis for item construction. Two parallel pools of items were written for the preliminary forms of the self-report measure. Half of these items were considered to be appropriate for grade four subjects in the interests and behaviors that were depicted, and the other half were considered to be appropriate for grade six subjects. A preliminary form which consisted of both pools was administered to a sample of grade four children. A preliminary form which consisted of the items prepared for the older group and the items from Little's (1972a) Thing Person Interest Questionnaire designed for adults was administered to a sample of grade six subjects. The itemmetric properties of the items were analyzed, and a sequential selection procedure was devised to permittthe selection of items which exhibited the best properties. These procedures resulted in two, age-related versions of the Person Thing Self Report. Both instruments are comprised of a 12-item person scale and a 14-item thing scale. The construction of items for a peer nomination measure was similarly based on the category sampling strategy. Two comparable preliminary forms were prepared and administered to samples of third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade subjects. Validity ratings from classroom teachers were also obtained. The item-analytic and selection procedures of Wiggins and Winder (1961) were followed, with modification, for the evaluation of the properties of the peer-report items. These procedures resulted in the development of the Person Thing Peer Report which is comprised of a 12-item person scale and a 14-item thing scale. The theoretical foundations for the development of specialized interests in the person domain and in the thing domain were discussed. A research program was outlined which concerned the investigation of the development of specialized interests and the relationships among these variables and the acquisition of cognitive and behavioral skills, temperament and personality variables.

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