Profile-based Observational Coding: Capturing Children's Patterns of Responding to Interpersonal Threat

Meredith Martin, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology
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2017 Methodology Applications Series: Presentation 1

Observational methodology provides a uniquely rich and flexible approach to assessing child behavior. 

The first half of this presentation will outline strategies for successfully developing, implementing, and tailoring observational coding systems to child and adolescent behaviors in social interaction across relationships (e.g., parent-child, family triadic, peers) and in various assessment contexts (e.g., discussions, quasi-experimental tasks, free-play). 

The second half of the presentation will introduce a novel approach to observational coding designed to yield continuous scores reflecting the degree to which children exemplify distinct, functional profiles of behavior. 

Observational methodology is uniquely suited to capturing behaviors that may have different meanings/serve different functions depending on an individual’s proximate context and the temporal unfolding of behavior. Several examples of profile-based coding systems developed to assess children’s responses to interpersonal threat (i.e., aggression, rejection, hostility) will be presented to illustrate this technique.