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Assessing strengths and difficulties in social development: a comparison of the Social Emotional Assessment Measure (SEAM) with two established developmental psychopathological questionnaires

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  • Nina Madsen Sjoe, Ramboll Group AS, University College Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Astrid Kiil, VIVE - The Danish Center for Social Science Research
  • ,
  • Dorthe Bleses
  • Line Dybdal, Ramboll Group AS
  • ,
  • Svend Kreiner, University of Copenhagen
  • ,
  • Peter Jensen

In both basic research and applied domains, the prevailing paradigm for assessing social development has shifted from deficit-oriented measures to strength-based assessments or a combination. However, it is not yet clear the extent to which strength-based assessment reflects one end of a single dimension of children’s socio-emotional skills, or a distinctly different dimension from a problem-focused examination. This validation study compares the Social Emotional Assessment Measure (SEAM) with two well-known psychopathological questionnaires (the Caregiver-Teacher Report Form; C-TRF and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire; SDQ-T. We explore the relations between and the variation of the three questionnaires’ scores based on a low-risk sample of 2−5-year-old Danish children (n = 291). The SEAM Empathy Index is directly and positively related to the SDQ-T Prosocial subscale, while the SEAM Self-regulation & Cooperation Index is directly and negatively related to the SDQ-T Conduct problems subscale and the C-TRF Aggressive behaviour and Attention problems subscales. The variation in the SEAM indexes at the floor of the problem-based scales appears to reflect that strength-based assessments measure a distinct aspect of behaviour that is not identical to absence of problem-based behaviour. Thus, positive and negative aspects of socio-emotional skills are not entirely on the same dimension, and strength-based assessment improves the range of information. Abbreviations: Child Behavior Checklist: CBCL; Social Emotional Assessment Measure: SEAM; Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: SDQ.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Developmental Psychology
Pages (from-to)103-122
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

    Research areas

  • assessment, CBCL, preschool, SDQ, SEAM, strength-based

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