Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Johnny L. Matson


The literature on the history, definition, etiology, and assessment of social skills in mentally retarded adults was reviewed and the lack of adequate assessment measures was noted. Given the importance of social skills for mentally retarded individuals, especially in the area of community adjustment (e.g., residential and vocational placements), a behavioral checklist to assess these skills was developed. The Measure of Observable Social Skills (MOSS) was derived from reviewing social skills assessment and treatment literature, questionnaires, rating scales, and checklists. Two forms, each containing 47 different items, were developed and completed by caregivers of 212 mild to mentally retarded adults. Psychometric data, including test-retest reliability, split-half reliability, interrater reliability, item-total correlations, coefficient alphas, and percent agreement, were obtained to assess the overall reliability of the scale. Internal consistency and test-retest reliability for both forms were high, while interrater reliability was moderate. In addition, a factor analysis resulted in the emergence of two factors (i.e., basic interpersonal skills, friendliness) and sociometric ratings were adequately correlated with MOSS total scores. Implications for future research on social skills in mentally retarded persons are discussed.