Now showing 1 - 10 of 13
  • Publication
    Predictors of outgroup empathy among majority and minority children in a conflict-affected society
    We examined the predictors of outgroup empathy in children growing up in a city devastated during the fall of the Former Yugoslavia. Children (N=155; 76 male, 79 female) from both majority (64.5% Croatian) and minority (35.5% Serbian) ethnic groups, ranging from 6 to 11 years old (M=8.77, SD=1.15) participated. A multiple-group path analysis in Mplus found that age, general empathy, quality contact and perceived intergroup conflict related to higher outgroup empathy. There were no significant links from gender, quantity contact or outgroup friends to outgroup empathy. The findings were consistent across majority and minority ethnic groups. Implications are discussed.
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  • Publication
    Helping Kids! Cross-Cultural Research on Children’s Prosocial Behavior in Societies Transitioning to Peace
    Intrastate conflicts dominate the twenty-first century. Understanding the psychological mechanisms necessary to transform such settings into more peaceful societies is essential. Toward that end, Helping Kids! is a cross-cultural project that focuses on children in conflict-affected contexts. Moving away from the conceptualization of youth as perpetrators or powerless victims, Helping Kids! recognizes that children can foster a peaceful future, despite growing up in the shadow of war. This chapter approaches peace holistically and understands it as not merely the absence of violence, exploring a conceptualization of positive peace. In line with this understanding, Helping Kids! goes beyond reducing prejudice to focus on intergroup prosocial acts. The chapter first outlines how outgroup prosociality can be understood as an antecedent of peacebuilding, then presents evidence from elementary school-aged children in five different contexts of intergroup conflict (Northern Ireland, Croatia, Kosovo, Republic of North Macedonia, and Israel) to reflect both the complexity and diversity of this area of research. We highlight both the common characteristics as well as differences across the Helping Kids! contexts and how children can contribute to a transition to peace. The chapter concludes with recommendations for future research and practice.
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  • Publication
    Symbols and labels: Children’s awareness of social categories in a divided society
    Aims: How and when children develop an understanding of group boundaries have implications for conflict resolution. When social divisions are not perceptually distinct, symbols become particularly important. Framed by Social Identity Development Theory, this study was designed to assess children’s categorization of symbols with conflict-related group labels. Method: In Northern Ireland, 218 children (M=8.14, SD = 1.83, range 5-11 years old) participated in a novel task designed for this study. The sample was evenly split by child gender and community background. Results: Children sorted symbols above chance with both the hypothesized national (i.e., British/Irish) and ethno-political (i.e., Protestant/Catholic) labels, showing a stronger association for the former. Sorting was also stronger for ingroup symbols, compared to outgroup symbols, and increased with age. Conclusion: These findings reflect the potential role that a divided social world has on the development of children’s understanding of conflict-related groups. The results also have implications for intergroup relations among children in divided societies.
    Scopus© Citations 16  191
  • Publication
    Promoting Prosocial Behavior Toward Refugees: Exploring the Empathy-Attitude-Action Model in Middle Childhood
    Given the current global “refugee crisis,” there is a need for research investigating methods to promote positive intergroup relationships in host communities. This chapter will explore how empathy can be used to encourage host-society children to develop positive attitudes and engage in helping and prosocial behaviors toward refugees. The focus will be on middle childhood, a period when youth acquire advanced forms of perspective taking and an increased understanding of intergroup dynamics. This chapter extends prior research in adult populations by applying the empathy-attitudes-action model as an intervention for preparing children to engage positively toward incoming refugee children. This model outlines that inducing empathy toward a member of a stigmatized group may improve out-group attitudes as a whole, and in turn, increase prosocial behavior toward that collective out-group. Furthermore, the chapter recognizes the agency of children in establishing harmonious intergroup relations and in creating peaceful and inclusive societies. This chapter concludes with a call to action, advocating for the implementation of preventative programs that prepare children to engage meaningfully with their new peers.
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  • Publication
    Exploring children’s knowledge of Irish and European Symbols: A comparison of Irish-medium and English-medium primary school children
    Knowledge of symbols, which can be influenced by school ethos, informs identity construction in primary school children. This study aimed to explore Gaelscoil (Irish-medium) and English-medium primary school children’s familiarity with Irish and European symbols. Thirty 9 to 12-year-old children in Ireland participated in this study; 15 from two Irish-medium and 15 from an English-medium primary school. A draw-and-tell data collection design was used and qualitative data was analysed using the constant comparative method. Results indicate children from both school types shared a number of Irish symbols, namely Irish emblems, Irish mythology, sports and material aspects of culture. Irish-medium primary school children had two further Irish symbol categories, the past as a symbol and physical characteristics of Ireland. European symbols shared across children from both school types included signifiers of the European Union (EU), monetary symbols and European countries. The Irish-medium primary school children had two further categories, Europe through an Irish lens and European cuisine, while the English-medium children had one further category, sport. The results suggest that by middle childhood, children in both school types have knowledge about a number of symbols associated with both national and European identities. Implications for future research are discussed.
    Scopus© Citations 1  49
  • Publication
    Essentialist beliefs affect children’s outgroup empathy, attitudes and prosocial behaviours in a setting of intergroup conflict
    Empathy for salient outgroups can promote positive intergroup attitudes and prosocial behaviours. Less is known about which factors may promote empathy, particularly among children, in contexts of intergroup conflict. Empathy may depend on underlying cognitions, such as social essentialist beliefs, that is, believing that certain social categories have an underlying essence that causes members to share observable and non-observable properties. This study explored the influence of essentialist beliefs about ethno-religious categories on outgroup-directed empathy, attitudes, and prosocial behaviours of children living in Northern Ireland (N=88; M=7.09, SD=1.47 years old). Bootstrapped chain mediation found that lower essentialist beliefs predicted greater outgroup-directed empathy, which was positively related to outgroup attitudes, which in turn, predicted more outgroup prosocial behaviours. The findings highlight the importance of essentialist beliefs as an underlying factor promoting empathy, with links to prosocial behaviours in settings of intergroup conflict. The intervention implications are discussed.
    Scopus© Citations 16  228
  • Publication
    Empathy to action: Child and adolescent outgroup attitudes and prosocial behaviors in a setting of intergroup conflict
    The paper explored how to promote constructive intergroup relations among children and young people in a context of protracted conflict. Across two studies, the Empathy‐Attitudes‐Action model was examined in middle childhood and adolescence. More specifically, we tested the relations among dispositional empathy, outgroup attitudes, and prosocial behaviors for youth born after the peace agreement in Northern Ireland. In one correlational (Study 1: N = 132; 6‐ to 11‐years‐old: M = 8.42 years, SD = 1.23) and one longitudinal design (Study 2: N = 466; 14‐ to 15‐years‐old), bootstrapped mediation analyses revealed that empathy was associated with more positive attitudes toward the conflict‐related outgroup, which in turn, was related to higher outgroup prosocial behaviors, both self‐report and concrete actions. Given that outgroup prosocial acts in a setting of intergroup conflict may serve as the antecedents for peacebuilding among children and adolescents, this study has intervention implications.
    Scopus© Citations 33  363
  • Publication
    Children’s outgroup giving in settings of intergroup conflict: The developmental role of ingroup symbol preference
    Understanding when children develop a sense of group boundaries has implications for conflict and its resolution. Integrating Social Identity Development Theory and the Developmental Peacebuilding Model, we investigate whether preferences for ethno-religious ingroup symbols mediate the link from child age to outgroup prosocial giving among 5- to 11-year-old children from both majority and minority backgrounds in three settings of protracted intergroup conflict (N=713, M=7.97, SD=1.52, 52.6% female). Participants represented the conflict rival ethno-religious groups in each setting (Northern Ireland (n=299): 48.5% Protestant, 51.5% Catholic; Kosovo (n=220): 54.1% Albanian, 45.9% Serbian; Republic of North Macedonia (RNM) (n=194): 45.9% Macedonian, 54.1% Albanian) and were largely from lower to middle class families; 4% of participants from other ethnic backgrounds were excluded from the current analyses. Multiple group, bias-corrected bootstrapped mediation found that ingroup symbol preference mediated the link from child age to outgroup prosocial giving; that is, older children expressed higher ingroup symbol preference which was linked with lower outgroup giving. Across Northern Ireland, Kosovo, and the RNM, there was some significant variation in the strength of specific paths; however, there was a significant indirect effect in all three settings. The findings advance cross-cultural understanding of how age relates to ingroup symbol preferences and outgroup prosocial giving across the elementary school years, with implications for children’s long-term peacebuilding contributions in three conflict-affected societies.
    Scopus© Citations 14  63
  • Publication
    Outgroup prosocial giving during childhood: The role of ingroup preference and outgroup attitudes in a divided society
    Amid protracted conflict, children are raised in divided contexts which shape the development of their intergroup attitudes and behaviors. Social Identity Development Theory (SIDT) suggests that ingroup preference may contribute to more negative outgroup attitudes and behaviors in middle childhood. In such contexts, ingroup favoritism may shape resource distribution, a key indicator of prosocial behavior. This study examined the predictors of resource distribution among 387 children (age: M=9.59, SD=2.34) of majority (Jewish) and minority (Arab-Muslim) groups in Israel. Rooted in SIDT, a multiple-group chain mediation found that the effect of age on outgroup prosocial giving was serially mediated by the child’s ingroup symbol preference and negative outgroup attitudes. The mediation held across both majority and minority groups, highlighting the underlying developmental process of prosocial giving across group lines in a divided society.
    Scopus© Citations 22  116
  • Publication
    Strength of children’s European identity: findings from majority and minority groups in four conflict-affected sites
    The European Union (EU) aims to promote peace. This research investigates the saliency of a European identity for children from majority and minority groups in four conflict-affected societies in Europe (Croatia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland (NI), and Republic of North Macedonia (RNM)). These sites represent a range of relations with the EU (e.g., leaving the EU, an EU member, wanting to join the EU). Participants included 442 children aged 7 to 11 years, evenly split by gender and group status (Croatia n = 90; Kosovo n = 107; NI n = 60; RNM n = 185). After a draw-and-tell task to prime European identity (vs. ingroup or control condition), we measured children’s identification with Europe, outgroup attitudes and prosociality. Although the European identity prime was not effective, children’s strength of European identity varied by site and group status and related to more positive attitudes and prosociality towards the conflict-rival outgroup. Implications for the future of the European project are discussed.
    Scopus© Citations 5  42