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Keywords:

  • aggressive behaviour;
  • mild intellectual disabilities;
  • social information processing;
  • social problem solving

Abstract

Background  Most research on children's social problem-solving skills is based on responses to hypothetical vignettes. Just how these responses relate to actual behaviour in real-life social situations is, however, unclear, particularly for children with mild intellectual disabilities (MID).

Method  In the present study, the spontaneous and selected responses of 56 children with MID to hypothetical situations from the Social Problem-Solving Test for children with MID (SPT-MID) were compared to their actual behaviour in comparable staged standardized real-life conflict situations. Correlations to externalizing behaviour problems were assessed using the Teacher's Report Form (TRF).

Results  The results show children with MID and accompanying externalizing behaviour problems to behave more aggressively in the staged real-life conflicts and provide more spontaneous aggressive responses to the hypothetical vignettes than children with MID and no accompanying externalizing behaviour problems; they did not, however, select more aggressive responses from the hypothetical options provided. A moderate correlation was found between the aggressiveness of the spontaneous responses in the hypothetical situations and actual behaviour in the staged real-life situations. In addition, both the spontaneous aggressive responses under hypothetical circumstances and the actual aggressive behaviour under staged real-life circumstances were related to teacher-rated aggressive behaviour in the classroom.

Conclusions  It is concluded that the hypothetical vignettes from the SPT-MID do provide information on both the actual behaviour and knowledge of social problem-solving skills of children with MID.