Work Package 5

Network intervention - "Together for Tolerance" (PI Van Zalk)

In Work Package 5 we will implement the Together for Tolerance project.

WP5 will introduce inclusivity norms in the field. Previous research has shown that especially social referents (e.g., adolescents with most friendship nominations from others) can strongly influence norm changes in adolescence. Our network intervention focuses on middle adolescence (i.e., 14–16-year-olds), which is characterized by salient developmental changes in peer relationships, and by a peak in susceptibility to peer group norms in schools. Prior interventions show that training social referents in this age group to spread anti-conflict norms resulted in greater school-wide adherence to adolescent anti-conflict norms and reductions of interpersonal conflict. However, no prior studies have examined to what degree training social referents is effective for spreading inclusivity norms in school networks.

In WP5, inclusivity norms will be promoted through such a school-based network intervention. Our intervention will combine social referent approaches and social reinforcement by targeting influential groups of individuals and training them to exert long-term influence on inclusivity norms. Each intervention group will be trained to develop strategies and will be provided materials and platforms (e.g., a dedicated website) to implement specific measures, activities, or campaigns in their school that promote inclusivity norms. In middle adolescence, this participatory approach in interventions is important as it accommodates youths’ developmental needs for autonomy, respect, and status. The intervention’s effectiveness will be evaluated in a four-wave experimental network study (with five randomized conditions), with two pre-tests and two post-tests. We will invite five schools for participation at all four waves and implement the intervention randomly in four schools, with one remaining school as control group. At each wave, network data will be collected in all five schools. The procedure is as follows: within each school, all 8th to 10th graders are invited to participate at each wave, and to fill out network nominations on a range of network attributes (e.g., friendships, popularity, visibility; cf.). Using the two pre-tests of these network data, we will identify four pools of adolescent participants in each school: (1) social referents with high standings in the entire network; (2) social referents with low standings, yet many connections to the fringes; (3) friendship cliques with high interconnections (e.g., mutual friends); and (4) friendship cliques with low interconnections, yet many connections to the fringes. Next, four schools are randomly assigned to the four intervention conditions, exclusively targeting one of the four pools of adolescents (capped at n=60 for feasibility). This allows us to evaluate both the complex contagion and social referent strategies for the spread of inclusivity norms. The use of longitudinal pre-test data is important to select adolescents and cliques who remain most stable in their network positions (as they are assumed to have more influence). We will use two post-tests to examine immediate and lagged intervention effects. Specifically, we will examine to what degree the intervention results in the spreading of perceived inclusivity norms in networks, which, in turn, improves tolerance, collaboration, and contact willingness between ethnic, religious, and other groups. Through our ongoing collaboration with the Landespräventionsrat Niedersachsen and the Verein Niedersächsische Bildungsinitiativen, we will first screen 8th to 10th graders with surveys on risk factors for adolescent polarization (e.g., relative deprivation, divergent political attitudes, intergroup conflict, group discrimination). We will then select five schools that score high on these risk factors (a total of N ≈ 750). An a priori power analysis (medium effect size f = .25; α = .05; 1-β = .90; four waves, five conditions) showed we need minimally n=390. Based on our own and others’ prior studies with similar designs, we anticipate a minimum response rate of 60% (n ≈ 450).

Together for tolerance - miteinander füreinander

„Together for Tolerance“ is a project about social relationships in school, respect and tolerance. We want to find out, together with the students, how school can become a place where you treat each other respectfully, despite different opinions or backgrounds.

Social Media