The purposes of this study were to (a) test the validity of a sensory reactivity measure adapted for parents of preschool-age children, (b) examine if different modalities of sensory reactivity (i.e. smell, touch, taste, etc.) emerge together or if differing thresholds of reactivity exist between sensory modalities, (c) see how parental ratings of preschoolers' sensory reactivity are related to children's behaviors in the classroom, and (d) see if sensory reactivity bears different relationships to children's social behaviors than do other aspects of temperament. A total of 260 parents (242 mothers, 18 fathers) and 10 teachers of 260 children (131 male, 129 female; M = 63 months; SD = 8.80; range = 39-81) participated. Parents completed the newly developed Children's Sensory Reactions Questionnaire and the Colorado Child Temperament Inventory. Teachers completed the Social Skills Questionnaire. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses extracted two factors from the CSRQ measure: sensory reactivity and perceptual awareness. Examination of the associations of sensory reactivity and perceptual awareness and children's behaviors with peers resulted in several significant relationships. Specifically, sensory reactive children appear to be less sociable (i. e. prosocial, friendly), more likely to engage in immature solitary pretend play, and more prone to utilize instrumental aggression in peer interactions. Perceptually aware children, on the other hand, tend to be more sociable (i.. e., prosocial, friendly, controls impulses), better able to appropriately and punctually comply with tasks given by teacher, less likely to engage in a number of solitary play behaviors (i. e., passive withdrawal and immature play), less likely to utilize instrumental or reactive aggressive strategies, and more likely to dodge negative peer interactions by avoiding bullies. Furthermore, the associations which sensory reactivity and perceptual awareness bear to children's sociable, non-social, and anti-social behaviors contrast those of other dimensions of temperament such as child activity level and emotionality. Therefore, the constructs extracted from the newly developed Children's Sensory Reactions Questionnaire appear to contribute to our overall understanding of child temperament as well as the associations between temperament and young children's social, nonsocial, and antisocial behaviors.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage, Family, and Human Development
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Evans, Cortney Anne, "Making Sense of Their World: Sensory Awareness and Sensory Reactivity as Predictors of Social Interaction in Early Childhood" (2008). All Theses and Dissertations. 1891.
sensory reactivity, sensory threshold, perceptual awareness, social behavior, non-social behavior, antisocial behavior