The social competence and work performance of people with mental retardation

Date of Completion

January 1989


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Special|Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations|Education, Vocational




The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between the social competence and work performance of individuals with mental retardation. Research to date suggests that these individuals may be at risk of losing their jobs because of poor social skills. This study seeks to determine: (a) whether rated social competence is related to the work success of adults with mental retardation, (b) whether social competence is a factor in their type of work placement, and (c) whether a brief screening measure of social competence is superior to a more extensive, but less comprehensive measure of adaptive behaviour in predicting work success and work setting.^ The subjects in this study were 60 individuals with mental retardation from five agencies in Connecticut. All of the subjects were employed in non-sheltered environments in the community. The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale (Survey Edition) and the Social Competence Index (Greenspan, Gregory and Granfield, 1987) were used to measure the social competence of the subjects. Measurement of their work performance included hourly salary and assessment by their employer and job coach using the Work Performance Evaluation Form (White and Rusch, 1983).^ Multiple regression analyses were conducted to determine to what extent and in what manner, social competence explained variance in work performance. The results of the analyses revealed that social competence played a role in the work performance of people with mental retardation when employee performance was measured by employer and job coach evaluation. When salary was used as a measure of work performance, social competence did not play a significant role. Discriminant function analyses were used to determine whether social competence differentiated between the subjects in the three work settings: individual placements, enclaves and work crews. The results also showed that social competence did not discriminate between the subjects in different settings. The instruments used to measure social competence, the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale and the Social Competence Index, were comparable in measuring the role of social competence in the work performance of people with mental retardation. ^