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Dev Psychol. 2002 May;38(3):376-93.

How do preschool children feel about themselves? Unraveling measurement and multidimensional self-concept structure.

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SELF Research Centre, University of Western Sydney, NSW, Australia.


Theoretical models suggest that 4- and 5-year-old children should be able to differentiate between multiple dimensions of self-concept, but empirical support is limited. A new 38-item Self Description Questionnaire for Preschoolers (SDQP) that measures 6 self-concept factors (Physical, Appearance, Peers, Parents, Verbal, and Math) was developed and tested. Through an individual-interview procedure, young children (4.0-5.6 years) completed the SDQP and achievement tests. The self-concept scales were reliable (.75-.89), first-order and higher order confirmatory factor analysis models fit the data, and factor correlations were mostly moderate (-.03-.73; Mdn = .29). Achievement test scores correlated modestly with academic self-concept factors (rs = .15-40) but were nonsignificantly or significantly negatively related to nonacademic self-concepts. The results contribute to the critical debate about the validity of self-reports for preschool children, who distinguished between multiple dimensions of self-concept at an even younger age than suggested by previous self-concept research.

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