Representation of goodness or badness in contacts of 5-year-old children with mother and nursery school teacher

Miriam Ben-Aaron, Yohanan Eshel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study assessed children's evaluation of their own 'goodness' or 'badness' in interactions with a caregiver. These assessments were derived from 5-year-olds' responses to interviews where (a) the adult takes the role of a child and addresses the child as a knowledgeable fairy (with the help of two appropriate dolls), and (b) the adult addresses the child directly. These interviews referred to positive as well as negative contacts with two different adult figures, mother and nursery school teacher; and two different child-rearing settings, town and kibbutz. The sample consisted of 72 5-year-olds drawn from both kibbutzim and towns in Israel. Results indicated that children's representation of self-goodness or self-badness, in positive as well as negative contacts, was more positive in the role of self than in the role of a fairy. The difference between these representations was larger among kibbutz children than among town peers. Statistical interactions were obtained (three-way child role by nature of contact by place of origin) for contacts with mother, and were not replicated in child contacts with the nursery school teacher. These findings suggest that the regulation of feelings of goodness or badness of 5-year-old children is facilitated and sustained by 'lived' experiences with significant other, as compared with 'as if' relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-104
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Journal of Medical Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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