We are currently working on a number of funded projects within our lab.

British Academy-funded project on COVID Misinformation

Core research Team: Luke McGuire, Adam Rutland, Aqsa Farooq

Adolescents face a reduced risk of severe symptoms from the novel coronavirus, yet there is some evidence that youth can transmit the virus at the same rate as adults. Until an evidence-based consensus is reached regarding transmission, it will be important to promote adherence to public health practices (e.g. social distancing, hand washing) among adolescents. Crucially, there is a need for research exploring how adolescents themselves reason about these issues. This project examines adolescents’ reasoning about public health practices and whether this is related to behavioural intentions to engage with these practices. Relatedly, this project examines how misinformation can impact adolescents’ reasoning and public health behavioural intentions. Together this evidence will inform the communication of COVID-19 related information in order to promote youth engagement with public health practices and challenge the potential consequences of misinformation.

ESRC-funded “Bystander Project”

Core research team: Adam Rutland, Ayse Sule Yuksel, Tracey Warren, Secil Gonultas, Sally Palmer, Eirini Ketzitzidou Argyri, Luke McGuire, Melanie Killen (University of Maryland)

This three year project examines children’s and adolescents’ bystander responses to hypothetical scenarios of social exclusion of immigrants. This project draws from developmental intergroup theory (e.g., social reasoning development theory) to examine whether the following intergroup factors influence participants’ evaluations of the social exclusion from childhood into adolescence. Study 1 examines identity, by varying the nationality of the immigrant peer (e.g., Australian vs. Turkish) and measuring participants’ own national identity. Study 2 examines norms, by varying groups’ expectations around attitudes towards others (e.g., are they “inclusive” or “exclusive”). Study 3 examines shared knowledge and stereotypes about immigrants. Study 4 is a qualitative study that aims to identify the decision-making process in more detail: what the children and adolescents really want to do as a bystander, giving them the opportunity to provide the researchers with alternative ways to support a victim when they witness bullying. Study 5 examines how descriptive peer group norms about bystander challenging (i.e., the peer group helping or doing nothing to help the excluded peer) influence children’s and adolescents’ bystander reactions to the social exclusion of immigrant/refugee peers.

Wellcome/NSF Funded “STEM Teens” Project

Core Research Team: Adam Rutland, Mark Winterbottom, Luke McGuire, Fidelia Law (UK) Adam Hartstone-Rose, Kelly Lynn Mulvey, Eric Goff, Matt Irvin (USA)

This five-year project examines the influence of youth educators in informal science learning settings (ISLS). The project examines this influence from two distinct angles. First, we will longitudinally survey ‘STEM Teens’ – youth educators working in our six sites in the UK and US. This side of the project draws from Expectancy-Value Theory and tries to understand how such volunteer positions may increase self-efficacy, perceived competence and reduce gender/ethnicity stereotypes about who can be involved in the STEM workforce. Second, the project examines whether the presence of youth educators in our ISLS has an impact on visitor’s experiences. More specifically, we will examine situations where visitors interact with a youth educator, an adult educator, or no educator. We are interested in whether interacting with a youth educator changes STEM interest, engagement, learning and stereotypes. This involves a. surveying visitors at pre-selected exhibits in the ISLS, and b. video/audio recording of interactions between visitors and educators at these sites.

Useful Readings:

Dawson, E. (2014). ‘Not designed for us’: How science museums and science centers socially exclude low-income, minority ethnic groups. Science Education, 98, 981-1008.doi:10.1002/sce.21133

Eccles, J. S., & Wang, M.-T. (2016). What motivates females and males to pursue careers in mathematics and science? International Journal of Behavioral Development, 40, 100-doi:10.1177/0165025415616201

Eccles, J. S., & Wigfield, A. (2002). Motivational beliefs, values, and goals. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 109-132. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.53.100901.135153

PhD Project: British Children’s and Adolescents’ Actual and Hypothetical Reactions to the Intergroup Exclusion of Immigrants

Ayse Sule Yuksel

Supervisors: Adam Rutland and Sally Palmer

This study examines when children and adolescents actively challenge social exclusion based on group membership (i.e., immigrant status).  The study will both assess their actual behaviours in a simulated ball-tossing game, Cyberball and their evaluations of hypothetical scenarios involving peers being excluded based on group membership (British ingroup-immigrant outgroup). The study aims to understand whether their actual bystander behaviours align with their evaluations in the hypothetical scenarios. The study will also investigate how children and adolescents develop their reasoning about the exclusion of immigrants in terms of morality, group functioning and personal autonomy. Two age groups (8-10 and 13-15) will be examined since research has found a developmental change between these ages in terms of increasing social and group-related concerns and decreasing bystander behaviour intentions.

Useful Readings:

Mulvey, K., Boswell, C., Niehaus, K., & Dubow, Eric F. (2018). You Don’t Need to Talk to Throw a Ball! Children’s Inclusion of Language-Outgroup Members in Behavioral and Hypothetical Scenarios. Developmental Psychology, 54(7), 1372-1380.

Palmer, S.B. & Abbott, N. (2018). Bystander responses to bias-based bullying: A developmental intergroup approach. Child Development Perspectives, 12 (1), 39-44.

Killen, M., Rutland, A. & Yip, T. (2016). Equity and social justice in developmental science: Discrimination, social exclusion, and intergroup attitudes. Child Development, 87 (5), 1317-36.

PhD Project: Children’s Evaluation of Ingroup/Outgroup Deviants during a Hypothetical Intergroup Competitive Context: The Influence of Hyper-competitiveness as a Group Norm and An Individual Difference Factor

Stephanie Gibb

Supervisors: Adam Rutland and Sally Palmer

This study aims to examine 5-11 year old children who are presented with a hypothetical intergroup competitive context (‘Tug of War’). The study aims to examine children’s evaluations of ingroup and outgroup deviant peers, their willingness to exclude ingroup/outgroup deviant peers, their social moral reasoning within this context and their likeliness to demonstrate pro-sociality, or not, based on the social conventional norm manipulation (Norm: Hypercompetitive and Non-competitive). Finally, the proposed study aims to establish if children who score highly on an individual difference measure of hypercompetitiveness, differ on their evaluations of ingroup/outgroup deviants comparatively with their non-competitive peers.

Useful Readings:

 Mcquire, L., Rizzo, M, T., Killen, M. & Rutland, A. (2018) The Development of intergroup resource allocation: The role of Cooperative and competitive in-group norms, Developmental Psychology (Forthcoming).

Rutland, Adam; Killen, Melanie and Abrams, Dominic. 2010. A New Social-Cognitive Developmental Perspective on Prejudice: The Interplay Between Morality and Group Identity. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(3), 279-291.

Richardson, C., Hitti, A., Mulvey, K. & Killen, M. (2014). Social Exclusion: The Interplay of Group Goals and Individual Characteristics, Journal of Youth and    Adolescence, 43(8), 1281-1294.

PhD Project: Making Intergroup Contact Work

Lukas Wallrich

It is well established that positive contact between people from different groups can reduce anxiety and prejudice, and promote cohesion. However, contact between people from different backgrounds encounters friction even in the absence of prejudice and is thus sometimes difficult to establish and sustain. Therefore, I want to look at two related sets of questions throughout my PhD:

– How can adolescents and young adults be motivated to engage in contact with people who are different from them? Specifically, what is the role of self-expansion orientation in friendships and of a conscious valuing of diversity?

– How do negative contact experiences influence adolescents’ and young adults’ motivation to engage in contact? Specifically, how can a reduction in contact self-efficacy after a negative contact experience be limited?

In my research, I am employing a few different methods – cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys as well as quasi-experiments and field experiments. For some of them, I am working with The Challenge Network to assess the effect of group composition and specific sessions in the NCS programme.



British Orthodontist Society Funded “Malocclusion and bullying project”

Core research team: Adam Rutland, Andrew DiBiase (NHS), Michaela Rea, Tess Marshall

This project is jointly run with the NHS East Kent Hospital Trust. We are examining whether teeth, including malocclusions (teeth that are not straight, or do not bite together properly) influence peer interactions, especially bullying. This research is building on previous findings indicating a high incidence of bullying in young people with malocclusions who present for clinical treatment (e.g. braces). We are working with students aged 10 – 14 (year 5-6 in primary school and year 7-9 in secondary school) regardless of the appearance of their teeth. There are two stages to testing: a dental examination carried out by Andrew DiBaise, the consultant orthodontist, and questionnaire session facilitated by Goldsmiths staff. The questionnaire session takes place in groups and involves a 40 minute questionnaire (paper or qualtrics) and a 10 minute peer nomination and attribution measure. Results taken from the dental examination and questionnaire will help better understand the relationship between malocclusions and bullying including whether other factors (e.g. popularity or self-esteem) can impact this relationship.

Useful readings:

Seehra, J., Fleming, P. S., Newton, T., & DiBiase, A. T. (2011). Bullying in orthodontic patients and its relationship to malocclusion, self-esteem and oral health-related quality of life. Journal of Orthodontics38(4), 247-256.

Fleming, P. S., Proczek, K., & DiBiase, A. T. (2008). I want braces: factors motivating patients and their parents to seek orthodontic treatment. Community dental health25(3), 166-169.

British Academy-funded “Helping Project”

Core research team: Sally Palmer, Jellie Sierksma (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Ayse Yuksel, Tess Marshall

This project examines prosocial (i.e., helping) behaviour in intergroup contexts among primary school children. Research has examined prosocial instrumental helping (i.e., helping to achieve a goal) during intergroup contexts, and prosocial bystander helping (i.e., when witnessing bullying) during intergroup contexts. Uniquely, this project examines if the likelihood of helping is related across these different forms of helping. In addition, this project focusses on actual behaviours by employing novel methodologies e.g., the online ball-throwing game, “Cyberball” (which has been used to examine social exclusion previously). Furthermore, this project is concerned with determining whether prosocial responses differ according to the minority or majority-status of those involved e.g., those in need of help, and those who respond to the helping. This is driven by social identity predictions, where past research has shown that we are more likely to help those that we perceive to be “ingroup” members.

Useful Readings:

Killen, M., Rutland, A. & Yip, T. (2016). Equity and social justice in developmental science: Discrimination, social exclusion, and intergroup attitudes. Child Development, 87 (5), 1317-36.

Palmer, S.B., Rutland, A. & Cameron, L. (2015). The development of bystander intentions and social-moral reasoning about intergroup verbal aggression. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 33(4), 419-33.

Palmer, S.B. & Abbott, N. (2018). Bystander responses to bias-based bullying: A developmental intergroup approach. Child Development Perspectives, 12 (1), 39-44.