Social goals as predictors of children's in vivo emotional responses to social challenges

Karen D. Rudolph, Yuetian Li, Xiaomei Li, Tianying Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the role of social goals in shaping children's in vivo emotional responses during a challenging dyadic peer interaction. In all, 132 children (Mage = 9.46 years, SD = 0.33; 50% girls; 72% White) participated in a dyadic social challenge (conflict-of-interest situation) and reported their social goals and emotions during the task, and observers coded child emotions and dyad negativity. Mastery goals predicted more positive emotions unless interactions were highly negative. Performance-avoidance goals predicted more negative emotions, particularly in the context of negative interactions and disappointing outcomes. Performance-approach goals predicted less negative displayed emotions but more negative self-reported emotions. Findings provide novel insights into how context-specific social goals contribute to affective social competence during peer interactions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-438
Number of pages15
JournalChild development
Issue number2
Early online dateOct 29 2022
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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