A Comparison of Problem-solving Ability and Adjustment in Urban and Suburban 3rd Grade Children

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This study compared the interpersonal cognitive problem-solving (ICPS) skills and adjustment of suburban and urban third-grade children and examined ICPS-adjustment relationships within groups. Tests of alternative solution thinking, means-ends cognition, and social role-taking ability were given to 171 predominantly white, middle-income, and 72 predominantly black, inner-city low-income children. Adjustment was measured by teacher, peer, and self-report ratings. Suburban children did better than urban youngsters on measures of means-ends thinking and social roletaking. Although there were positive relationships between both means-end thinking and role-taking, and adjustment in the suburban sample, those relationships dropped out when IQ effects were controlled. Alternative solution thinking related consistently to teacher estimates of adjustment among urban children. The implications of these findings for developing problem-solving training curricula that meet the special needs of different sociodemographic groups are considered.

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American Journal of Community Psychology, v. 10, p. 155-170.