Drs. Janis Kupersmidt, Rebecca Stelter, and Alison Parker from innovation Research & Training (iRT), presented a poster entitled, “SIP-AP: Web-based Assessment of Social information Processing in Children and Adolescents,” at the Society for Research in Child Development Special Topic Meeting: Technology and Media in Children’s Development on October 29, 2016.  This conference, held in Irvine, California, was organized to showcase scholarship investigating the impact and influence of media and technology on child and adolescent development as well as assessment and intervention strategies using media.

The poster describes two multimedia Web-based assessment tools, the SIP-AP for Elementary Boys and the SIP-AP for Adolescent Boys, created and tested by the scientific team at iRT.  The suite of SIP-AP tools were designed to provide a standardized, self-administered, psychometrically strong tool for assessing Social Information Processing (SIP) skills and deficits in aggressive youth. The tool is based upon the SIP theory proposed by Crick and Dodge (1994) that describes the underlying cognitive mechanisms associated with interpreting social interactions and deciding how to respond to them. This theory has been frequently applied to studies examining decision-making around being aggressive. Previous methods of assessing SIP skills posed a number of problems for both practitioners and researchers, including a lack of standardized, ecologically-valid, and comprehensive measures.

To complete the SIP-AP, youth view developmentally appropriate videotaped vignettes of everyday social interactions with peers. These videos were shot from a first-person perspective in order to encourage immersion in the assessment experience and facilitate participant engagement with the content. Each vignette shows a social situation where the viewer is the victim of aggression and the intent of the perpetrator is ambiguous.  A range of social situations are shown in the videos such as being tripped, excluded from a social gathering, excluded from secrets being shared among peers, and hit while playing ball. Boys viewed the brief videotapes and then, answered a series of questions about how they interpreted and felt about the provocation as well as how they might respond, if it happened to them.

Two studies have been conducted to evaluate the SIP-AP with both targeted age groups of boys. In addition, boys provided feedback about their experience completing the assessment.  Most importantly, the findings from both studies revealed that SIP deficits were associated with a history of aggressive and antisocial behavior. Also, 100% of the elementary school-aged boys enjoyed the vignettes and over 90% of the adolescent boys found the computer program somewhat or very interesting. The identified SIP deficits were also correlated with antisocial behavior in these target populations. These studies showed that the SIP-AP can be very helpful to psychologists and other mental health professionals in pinpointing social cognitive targets for intervention to reduce aggressive behavior in boys.

iRT hopes that SIP-AP can be used by researchers conducting both basic and applied research studies as well as by clinicians engaged in preventing or treating aggressive behavior in youth. The information learned from completion of the SIP-AP can be used in efforts that aim at reducing anti-social and aggressive behavior. iRT has also invested in creating videotaped vignettes showing elementary school-aged and adolescent girls as perpetrators and bystanders to allow for assessment of SIP skills in children of both genders. 

Dr. Janis Kupersmidt, President, Founder, and Senior Research Scientist at iRT.
Dr. Rebecca Stelter, Research Scientist II at iRT.
Dr. Alison Parker, Research Scientist II at iRT.