The effect of semantic conditioning on children's self -concept

Ellen Rettberg Reicher, Fordham University


The goal of this study was to obtain positive changes in children's self-concept by using brief semantic conditioning that paired a child's first name (CS) with words having positive connotations (UCS). Eighty-four fourth grade students from two public schools participated in this study. This study utilized a repeated measures mixed experimental design with two between-subjects factors (2 schools, 3 groups). Both schools had three classes randomly assigned to three conditions, Experimental, Pseudo Treatment Control, or Neutral Control. Outcome criteria included the Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale, the Self-Description Questionnaire-I, and spelling test grades. Several repeated measures ANCOVAs did not find that the groups' self-concept and academic scores differed over time. However, there was consistent support that significant changes occurred in self-concept and academic performance across the entire sample, regardless of group. Therefore, this study provided evidence that children's self-concept is malleable, even after a brief intervention. It is possible that any level of participation and attention is beneficial toward improving self-concept levels.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Behaviorial sciences|Cognitive therapy

Recommended Citation

Reicher, Ellen Rettberg, "The effect of semantic conditioning on children's self -concept" (2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9964574.