Citation: Huitt, W. (2011). Social Development.
Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University.
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When Aronson (2003) first published The Social Animal in 1972, he confirmed scientifically what people knew experientially: Human beings
are social in their very nature. In fact,
Dunbar (1998) hypothesized that the large human brain evolved primarily to
adapt to an increasingly complex social environment. Albrecht (2005) and Goleman (2006) provided recent reviews of the
literature on social intelligence and developing social competence.
At its core,
social development includes making and maintaining
working collaboratively in groups, and establishing and maintaining
relationships. Goleman (2006) identified two basic categories of
developing social intelligence,
each with four specific subcomponents:
Social Awareness (primal empathy, attunement, empathetic accuracy, and
social cognition) and Social Facility
(synchrony, self-preservation, influence, and concern). The
School Social Behavior Scales (SSBS), one of the most widely used
assessment instruments for students in K-12 classrooms, is actually comprised of
two scales: (1) the Social Competence Scale, and (2) the Antisocial Behavior
Scale (Merrell, 1993). In turn, the
Social Competence Scale is comprised of three sets of skills: (1)
interpersonal skills, (2)
self-management skills, and (3)
The Collaborative for
Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL,
2007), one of the leaders
in the development of social-emotional learning (SEL), identified five
teachable competencies that they
believe provide a foundation for effective personal development:
CASEL and like-minded researchers proposed that
school curricula must provide learning experiences that address students’
development in the academic, emotional, social, and moral domains (Cohen, 2006;
Elbertson, Brackett, & Weissberg, 2010; Elias, &
Arnold, 2006; Zins, Weissberg, Wang, & Walberg, 2004). Notice that the five competencies listed above involved the domains of
cognition/thinking (responsible decision making),
and self-management—handling one’s emotions), and
(self-management—setting and accomplishing goals; persevering), in addition to
the social domain (social awareness, relationship skills). These researchers suggested that by developing a safe and secure
environment and directly teaching the above listed social-emotional
competencies, students will not only be more academically engaged, thereby
learning more academic material, but also less likely to engage in risky
behavior that would be detrimental to their development. Additionally, they proposed that when schools form partnerships with the
families and community organizations of students they serve, the impact of the
school is made even stronger (Patrikakou, & Weissberg,
2007; Zins et al., 2007).
knowing what one is feeling and thinking; having a realistic assessment of one’s
own abilities and a well-grounded sense of self-confidence;
understanding what others are feeling and thinking; appreciating and interacting
positively with diverse groups;
Self-management: handling one’s emotions so they facilitate rather than
interfere with task achievement; setting and accomplishing goals;
persevering in the face of setbacks and frustrations;
establishing and maintaining healthy and rewarding relationships based on clear
communication, cooperation, resistance to inappropriate social pressure,
negotiating solutions to conflict, and seeking help when needed; and
Responsible decision making:
making choices based on an accurate consideration of all relevant factors and
the likely consequences of alternative courses of action, respecting others, and
taking responsibility for one's decisions.
- Albrecht, K. (2005).
Social intelligence: The new science of
success. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Aronson, E. (2007).
The social animal (10th
ed.). Worth Publishers.
- Cohen, J. (2006). Social, emotional, ethical, and academic education: Creating a
climate for learning, participation in democracy, and well-being. Harvard
Educational Review, 76(2), 201–237.
- Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). (2003). Safe
and sound: An educational leader’s guide to evidence-based social and emotional
learning programs. Retrieved June 2010, from
- Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). (2007). What
is SEL? Skills and competencies. Retrieved June 2010, from
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& Arnold, H. (Eds.). (2006). The educator’s guide to emotional intelligence
and academic achievement: Social emotional learning in the classroom. Thousand
Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Goleman, D. (2006). Social intelligence:
The revolutionary new science of human relations. New York: Bantam.
- Merrell, K. (1993). Using behavior rating scales to assess social skills and
antisocial behavior in school settings. School Psychology Review, 22(1), 115-133.
- Patrikakou, E., & Weissberg, R. (2007). School-family
partnerships to enhance children’s social, emotional, and academic learning. In
R. Bar-on, J. Maree, & M. Elias, Educating people to be emotionally
intelligent (pp. 49-77). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
- Elbertson, N., Brackett, M., & Weissberg, R. (2010. School-based
social and emotional learning (SEL) programming: Current perspectives. In
A. Hargreaves, A. Lieberman, M. Fullan, & D. Hopkins (Eds.), Second
international handbook of educational change (1017-1032). London:
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academic success on social and emotional learning: What does the research say?
New York: Teachers College Press.