chapter  6
286 Pages

Status Change and Personality

ByGlen H. Elder

This chapter shows the attention to the psychological effects of status change among children from deprived families, as expressed in self-orientations, relations with age-mates, and status striving. In a stable, homogeneous environment, children's images of self generally correspond to the images held by significant others. If indeed present before the Depression, this coherent world had little chance of surviving the social dislocation of heavy economic losses. The interview with mothers did not specify the relational context of self-consciousness or emotional sensitivity. That is, we do not know whether these states were mainly a consequence of relations with parents, other adults, or peers. What kind of school environment would enable children from widely diverse backgrounds in the Depression to achieve the degree of social equality on popularity and leadership observed in this study? Considering the range of limitations and hardships in deprived families, one might expect to find related social disabilities in the school setting.