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Matson Evaluation of Social Skills with Youngsters-II

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 3845 words Published: 23rd Apr 2018

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The Matson Evaluation of Social Skills with Youngsters-II (MESSY-II) and Its Adaptation for Iranian Children and Adolescents with Intellectual Disability

Bakhtiyar Karami, Mojtaba Gashool, Shoaib Ghasemi, Hamid Alizadeh


The aim of the present study was to evaluate the psychometric properties and factor structure of the Matson Evaluation of Social Skills with Youngsters-II (MESSY-II)in a community population in Iran. The Iranian version of the MESSY-II was administered by interviewing care staff of all children and adolescents (n = 355) with administratively defined intellectual disabilities (IDs) living in Tehran,Esfahan, Karaj & Kordistan. Confirmatory factor analysis supported the unidimensionality of the subscales as well as the proposed two factor structure of the original MESSY-II. The present study demonstrates that the three subscales are highly similar constructs across different language and cultural settings, and that the MESSY-II is applicable in research on populations with varying mental functioning, diagnoses, ages, and living arrangements.

Keywords: Social skills, Assessment, MESSY, Rating scale, Factor structure


The development of social skills is an important process in young childhood and adolescence. Deficits present in childhood that are left undetected and/or untreated can lead to increased problems into adulthood (Greene et al., 1999). In addition, impairments in social skills may be related to larger problems such as developmental disability, attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety, antisocial behavior, and other mental health problems (Davis et al., 2011; Lugnegard, Hallenback, & Gillberg, 2011; Mahan & Matson, 2011; Matson & Wilkins, 2009; Worley & Matson, 2011). Social skills deficits may occur as a result of these disorders or as part of the disorders themselves. As a result, identification of social weaknesses is essential for providing treatment and improving prognosis and quality of life. Identifying social strengths is also important for treatment and can guide clinicians to use assets that the child already possesses to help improve the areas of deficit.

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The assessment and training of social and adaptive skills is important for a number of reasons. First, social and adaptive skills deficits can compromise successful transition from institutional to community living (Jacobson & Schwartz, 1991; Doll, 1953). Second, deficits in these areas may contribute to the etiology of psychiatric disorders and behavioral problems (Borthwick-Duffy & Eyman, 1990; Matson & Sevin, 1994). Finally, social and adaptive deficits often persist in living areas where the philosophy of care consists of passive learning rather than active treatment (Matson & Hammer, 1996).

The MESSY (Matson, 1988) was developed in 1983 for assessing the social skill deficits of children aged 4 to 18. The original normative sample at the time was based on 744 typically developing children in Northern Illinois (Matson, Rotatori, & Helsel, 1983). The initial items included in the measure were based on a review of standardized measures, including items that addressed social behaviors. Two independent raters then selected the items believed to fit the definition of social skills. These 92 items were then administered to 422 children

(self-report form) and 322 teachers (teacher-report form) twice, at a 2-week interval. Test-retest reliability was conducted and items with Pearson’s correlations greater than .50 and .55 for the self- and teacher-report versions, respectively, were retained. The results yielded 62 items for the self-report form and 64 items for the teacher-report form. Original tests of reliability and validity indicated strong internal consistency and test-retest reliability andadequat convergent validity (Matson et al., 1983).

The MESSY has been translated into nine other languages and researched internationally: Spanish (Mendez, Hildalgo, & Ingles, 2002), Chinese (Chou, 1997), Japanese (Matson & Ollendick, 1988), Dutch (Prins, 1997), Hindi (Sharma, Sigafoos, & Carroll, 2000), Hebrew (Pearlman-Avnion & Eviator, 2002), French (Verté, Roeyers, & Buysse, 2003), Turkish (Bacanli & ErdoÄŸan, 2003), and Slovakian (Vasil’o (Bacanli & BaumÄŸartner, 2004). In addition, the MESSY has been researched with various populations, including children with hearing and visual impairments (Matson, Heinze, Helsel, Kapperman, & Rotatori, 1986; Matson, Macklin, & Helsel, 1985; Raymond & Matson, 1989) , intellectual disabilities (Matson & Barrett, 1982), anxiety disorders (Strauss, Lease, Kazdin, Dulcan, & Last, 1989), depression (Helsel & Matson, 1984), bipolar disorder (Goldstein, Miklowitz, & Mullen, 2006), and autism spectrum disorders (Matson, Stabinsky-Compton, & Sevin, 1991).2222

However, there is still no agreement about which factorial structure best explains the data because the results of former studies showed a different number of factors and different arrangements of items. Thus, the objectives of the present study are to examine the psychometric properties of the MESSY for the first time in an Iranian sample and to compare the results to foregoing studies with the MESSY in other socio-cultural contexts.

1. Method

1.1. Participants

Thirty hundred and fifty five 355 (223 male, 132 female) participants were recruited from undergraduate psychology courses. Their ages ranged from 3 to 26 years, with a mean age of 11.34 years (SD = 3.87). According to clinical practice in Iran, the participants were classified into having a mild (40.8%), moderate (47.0%), severe (11.3%), or profound (0.8%) level of mental retardation. The most frequent diagnoses were Down’s syndrome (53.8%), autism (20.8%), mentally retarded (16.9%), and 8.5% of the individuals were reported to have other disorders.

1.2. Measures

Matson Evaluation of Social Skills with Youngsters-II (MESSY-II; Matson et al., 2010). The MESSY-II is a social skills measure for a broad range of children, ages 2–16, based on observations of both appropriate and inappropriate social behaviors. This measure is a renormed version of the original MESSY, which was designed to assess social skills in children ages 4–18 (Matson, Rotatori, et al., 1983). The original scale had two different forms: a self-report form and parent/teacher report form consisting of 62 and 64 items, respectively. At present, the MESSY-II only has one form, which is a parent/caregiver report form. During the renorming process it was decided that social skills would best be examined through parent/caregiver report as opposed to self- report due to difficulties with poor insight in the populations frequently administered the MESSY. Also, since the measure’s utility has largely been clinic and community focused, there is a decreased need for a teacher report form. The MESSY-II has 64 items identical to the original MESSY parent/teacher report form, which are each rated on a Likert-type rating scale from 1 (‘‘not at all’’) to 5 (‘‘very much’’). Recent studies indicate that the scale has strong psychometric properties including internal consistency, and convergent and divergent validity (Matson et al., 2010). Although the original MESSY parent/teacher report form yielded a two factor structure (i.e., Inappropriate Assertiveness/Impulsiveness scale and Appropriate Social Skills scale), the factor structure of the MESSY-II has yet to be established.

1.3. Procedures

The participants for this investigation were recruited throughout the children & adolescents who enrolled in exceptional children schools. We first select 4 state – Tehran, Esfahan, Alborz & Kordistan randomly and then separate a list of exceptional children schools in this 4 state. After permission from authorities (Misinstry of Education in each city), the head teachers were contacted in order to coordinate the data collection processes. Then, after training the head teacher about MESSY-II in an agreed date teachers were asked to complete a paper and pencile version of the final draft of the Iranian version of MESSY-II for each student while one of us (AMo) was present in the agreed school for any possible help or inquiries. Data collected in about 1 month.

1.4. Data Analysis

In order to determine the factor structure of the MESSY-II, an exploratory factor analysis with Principle axis factoring was used on the 64 items of the MESSY-II. Given the likelihood of correlations among the underlying constructs of the factors, an oblique promax rotation was used (brown, 2006). The optimal factor structure was determined via examination of the scree plot, and comprehensibility of factors (zwick & velicer, 1986). Items with factor loadings greater than .30 were retained for each factor (kline, 2000). Internal consistency of the factors was examined using Cronbach’s alpha (Cronbach, 1951) and the 0.70 criterion for adequate reliability (Nunnally & Bernstein, 1994).

2. Results

Exploratory factor analysis yielded a two-factor solution for the MESSY-II. The total variance accounted for by the two- factor model was 41.43%. Inappropriate Assertiveness/Impulsiveness factor accounted for 29.37% of the variance. Appropriate Social Skills factor accounted for 12.6% percent of the variance. The correlation between two factors was moderate r= .410. Two items (i.e., item 20: Is afraid to speak to people; and item 46: Feels lonely) did not meet the criteria of .30, and were removed from the measure. Table 1 lists the factors and corresponding items.

Next, internal consistency was examined for the two factors of the MESSY-II using Chrobach’s alpha. Inappropriate Assertiveness/Impulsiveness had an internal consistency of .950 (M=70.58; SD=24.87), and Appropriate Social Skills had an internal consistency of .952 (M=75.64; SD=24.91). corrected Item-total correlations were considered for each of the retained factors to determine if the removal of additional items was warranted due to coefficients below 0.30 (Field, 2005). Item total correlations of Inappropriate Assertiveness/Impulsiveness subscale ranged from 0.42 (item 15) to 0.70 (item 9, 17, and 52). item total correlations of Appropriate Social Skills subscale ranged from 0.37 (item 19) to 0.77 (item 41).since no item on any of the scales had a correlation of less than .30 and, therefore, all items were retained following the two items that had been removed during the exploratory factor analysis.

3. Discussion

Impairments in social skills are a defining aspect of developmental disabilities, and deficits in these skills can affect the ability of children, adolescents, and adults to progress in other areas across the spectrum of development. Furthermore, social deficits are major risk factors for challenging behaviors (Farmer & Aman, 2009; Tenneij, Didden, Stolker, & Koot, 2009), and similarly, they can compound problems of psychopathology (Brim, Townsend, DeQuinzio, & Poulson, 2009; Matson, Dempsey, & Rivet, 2009; Niklasson, Rasmussen, O´ skarsdo´ ttir, & Gillberg, 2009; Rose, Bramham, Young, Paliokostas, & Xenitidis, 2009). For these and other reasons, the development of measures of social skills is very important (Matson & Boisjoli, 2009a, 2009b; Matson & Dempsey, 2009; van den Hazel, Didden, & Korzilius, 2009).

The purpose of this paper then, was to determine the factor solution of a measure used to assess social skills, the MESSY-II in Iranian population (Matson et al., 2010). The original MESSY was initially developed nearly three decades ago, but recently renormed (see Matson et al., 2010). Exploratory factor analysis of the MESSY-II yielded a three factor solution. Two of the factors were consistent with inappropriate social skills while the other consisted of items relating to appropriate and adaptive social skills.

The data were collected as part of an epidemiological research program including all children & adolescents with administratively defined ID living in 4 state – Tehran, Esfahan, Alborz & Kordistan. Overall, the results showed that the internal consistency of the Iranian MESSY-II is in line with previous research on the MESSY-II and that the proposed two-factor model had an acceptable fit.

This study showed satisfactory cultural adaptation, reliability, content validity and factor structure for the Iranian version of MESSY-II. However, considering the study limitations, the findings should not be generalized. In general this instrument will be a valuable teacher/parent reported measure for the evaluation of social skills (Inappropriate Assertiveness/Impulsiveness & Appropriate Social Skills) among children & adolescents with mental retardation in Iran and other Persian-speaking countries.

Table 1: Factor structure of the MESSY-II

Item no.


Factor 1: Inappropriate Assertiveness/Impulsiveness

Factor 2: Appropriate Social Skills


Makes others laugh




Threatens people or acts like a bully




Becomes angry easily




Is bossy (tells people what to do instead of asking)




Gripes or complains often




Speaks (breaks in) when someone else is speaking




Takes or uses things that are not his/hers without permission

without permission




Brags about self




Slaps or hits when angry




Gives other children dirty looks




Feels angry or jealous when someone else does well




Picks out other Children’s faults/mistakes




Breaks promises




Lies to get what he/she wants




Lies to get what he/she wants




Hurts others’ feelings on purpose




Is a sore loser




Makes fun of others




Blames others for own problems




Is stubborn




Thinks people are picking on him/her when they are not




Makes sounds that bother others




Brags too much when he/she wins




Speaks too loudly




Always thinks something bad is going to happen




Gets upset when he/she has to wait for things




Gets in fights a lot




Is jealous of other people




Stays with others too long (wears out welcome)




Explains things more than necessary




Hurts others to get what he/she wants




Thinks that winning is everything




Hurts others’ feelings when teasing them




Wants to get even with someone who hurts him/her




Helps a friend who is hurt




Always wants to be first




Walks up and initiates





Slaps or hits when angry




Sticks up for friends




Looks at people when they are speaking




Thinks he/she knows it all




Smiles at people he/she knows




Acts as if he/she better than others




Shows feelings




Thinks good things are going to happen




Works well on a team




Takes care of others’ property as if it were his/her own




Calls people by their names




Asks if he/she can be of help




Feels good if he/she helps others




Defends self




Tries to be better than everyone else




Asks questions when talking with others




Feels sorry when he/she hurts others




Likes to be the leader


.468 a


Joins in games with other children




Plays by the rules of a game




Does nice things for others who are nice to him/her


.712 a


Tries to get others to do what he/she wants


.368 a


Asks others how they are, what they have been doing, etc.




Is friendly to new people he/she meets




Talks a lot about problems or worries


.433 a


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