Gabriella Dekker-Calado, MSc: Parents and Teachers: Partners in the Fight against Bullying

  • Supervisors: Annelies Kassenberg (Hanze University of Applied Sciences), René Veenstra and Gijs Huitsing (RUG).
  • Funding: NRO; Period: February 1, 2019 – January 31, 2021  

Elsje de Vries, MSc: An Effective Anti-Bullying Program for Secondary Education

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra and Gijs Huitsing (RUG).
  • Funding: NRO; Period: January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2022  

Simon Venema, MSc: Strengthening ties between prisoners and their families: Effects of the family approach intervention in two prisons in the Netherlands 

  • Supervisors: Eric Blaauw (Hanze University of Applied Sciences), René Veenstra and Marieke Haan (RUG).
  • Funding: DJi; Period: September 1, 2018 – August 31, 2022  

Sanne Kellij, MSc: Social Perceptions, Responses, and Skills of Chronic Victims
Teachers who actively stand for anti-bullying norms are the most effective in tackling bullying. If teachers do not feel that they are responsible for preventing bullying, anti-bullying initiatives are unlikely to be optimally successful. Teachers’ beliefs about the causes of bullying are likely to affect how they feel about the occurrence of bullying in their classrooms and whether or not they will intervene in bullying episodes among their students. In order to understand why children behave in problematic ways, teachers tend to make inferences about the causes of this behavior. In general, teachers may take two broad viewpoints with respect to children’s problematic behavior: they either attribute it to factors within the teachers’ control (internal causes) or to factors outside the teachers’ control (external causes). If teachers attribute bullying mostly to external causes — and thus believe that bullying is caused by factors that cannot easily be influenced by them — it is unlikely that they will intervene in bullying incidents. They are likely to believe that their intervention will not make a large difference, that they do not have much influence on bullying, and that handling bullying is not their responsibility. By contrast, teachers who ascribe bullying to internal factors are more likely to perceive the problem as remediable, feel greater responsibility, and are more committed to stop the bullying. It can be hypothesized that a coaching intervention will help teachers to recognize various forms of bullying; become more aware of their potential role as significant other (referring to an increase in teachers’ attribution of bullying to internal causes); become more capable in taking an active stance against bullying. If this proves to be correct, coaching teachers will probably reduce the level of bullying.

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra, Gerine Lodder (RUG), and Berna Güroglu (Leiden University).
  • Funding: NWA; Period: February 1, 2018 – January 31, 2022  

Wouter Kiekens, MSc: Thriving Under Stress: Understanding What Makes Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adolescents Susceptible and Resilient to Minority Stress 
This project investigates differences in mental health and substance use of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adolescents. It focuses on susceptibility and resilience to the impact of minority stress on mental health and substance use, extending knowledge on how LGB adolescents are affected by minority stress using innovative methods. Specifically, it examines (1) the association between minority stress and mental health and substance use using experience sampling; and the roles of (2) rejection sensitivity and (3) social support using vignettes and ego networks. Understanding within and between-group differences helps to provide better support for these vulnerable youth.

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra, Jan Kornelis Dijkstra, & Laura Baams (RUG).
  • Funding: PhD Fund Faculty BSS; Period: September 1, 2018 – August 31, 2022  

Xingna Qin, MSc: The Development of Academic Achievement and Social Adaptation in Peer Networks among Chinese Adolescents 
This research aims to examine the dynamic interplay between academic achievement and social adaptation in both friendship and antipathy relationships among Chinese adolescents. By using state-of-the-art statistical models for social network analysis, new insights will be gained in the development of academic achievement and social adaptation, and selection and influence processes in both friendship and antipathy networks in the Chinese classroom. The findings will add to the literature on how behaviours and networks dynamically develop, present a comprehensive picture on broader properties of multiplex networks and throw light on the mechanisms of selection and influence in peer networks.

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra and Christian Steglich (RUG).
  • Funding: Chinese Scholarship Council; Period: September 1, 2018 – August 31, 2022  

Eleonora Marucci, MSc: The Role of Teachers in the Classroom’s Peer Ecology 
Teachers play a crucial role in classroom’s peer ecology. Intentionally or not, through their attitudes, believes and interactions with their pupils, teachers contribute to define the environment in which students’ development happens. Prior research has shown that teaching effectiveness is associated to different outcomes, such as the emergence of anti-aggressive group norms, and to different network proprieties, such as density and reciprocity of the friendship network, which could affect individual aggressive behavior. From a peer ecology perspective, possible influences of the teacher on the students’ social and behavioral outcomes include factors such as (a) teacher-student interactions (i.e., emotional support, classroom organization, instructional support), (b) teachers practices, believes and attitudes (i.e., disapproval of aggression, support for the shy); and (c) teachers knowledge of the individual and social characteristics of their students. Effective teaching involves organizing the overall structure of the students’ interactions in the classroom and using knowledge about social processes to promote behavioral, academic and relational engagement among students. Teaching practices such as small-group activities, oriented by a strong awareness of the students’ social and individual features, may discourage potentially problematic patterns of homophily, by separating students who may reinforce each other’s behavioral problems. Our central research questions are the following. To what extent can teachers positively shape the environment where students’ interactions take place In order to counteract aggressive conducts among students? How can teachers influence the initiation, maintenance and reduction of aggressive behaviors? Does the teacher’s awareness of students’ personal and sociometric characteristics play a role in the incidence of aggressive behavior?

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra, Beau Oldenburg (RUG), and Davide Barrera (Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy).
  • Funding: NWO VICI Program; Period: January 1, 2018 – August 31, 2021  

Danelien van Aalst, MSc: The Role of Teachers in Taking an Active Stance against Bullying
Teachers who actively stand for anti-bullying norms are the most effective in tackling bullying. If teachers do not feel that they are responsible for preventing bullying, anti-bullying initiatives are unlikely to be optimally successful. Teachers’ beliefs about the causes of bullying are likely to affect how they feel about the occurrence of bullying in their classrooms and whether or not they will intervene in bullying episodes among their students. In order to understand why children behave in problematic ways, teachers tend to make inferences about the causes of this behavior. In general, teachers may take two broad viewpoints with respect to children’s problematic behavior: they either attribute it to factors within the teachers’ control (internal causes) or to factors outside the teachers’ control (external causes). If teachers attribute bullying mostly to external causes — and thus believe that bullying is caused by factors that cannot easily be influenced by them — it is unlikely that they will intervene in bullying incidents. They are likely to believe that their intervention will not make a large difference, that they do not have much influence on bullying, and that handling bullying is not their responsibility. By contrast, teachers who ascribe bullying to internal factors are more likely to perceive the problem as remediable, feel greater responsibility, and are more committed to stop the bullying. It can be hypothesized that a coaching intervention will help teachers to recognize various forms of bullying; become more aware of their potential role as significant other (referring to an increase in teachers’ attribution of bullying to internal causes); become more capable in taking an active stance against bullying. If this proves to be correct, coaching teachers will probably reduce the level of bullying. 
– RUG Opinie: Teachers need our help to tackle bullying, September 2018

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra, Gijs Huitsing, and Beau Oldenburg (RUG).
  • Funding: NWO VICI Program; Period: September 1, 2016 – January 31, 2022  

Diego Palacios, MSc: The Co-evolution among Friendship, Prosocial, Aggression and Academic Networks in Adolescence
The social world in schools is organized in a variety of networks. Different relations such as friendship, collaboration, dislike and aggression connect students both within and outside schools. Previous research has studied the effects of friendship ties on prosocial, aggressive, prosocial and academic behavior separately, analyzing them mainly as individual characteristics instead of relational activities. Using social network analyses, this project examines the interrelationship between friendship and three significant types of networks in adolescence: aggression (Who starts fights?), prosociality (Who cooperates?), and academics (Who studies with whom?). The aim of this project is to study the coevolution of these networks by examining processes at actor (e.g., do prosocial students send more friendship ties?), dyadic (e.g., does cooperation lead to friendship?), and triadic level (e.g., do helpers of friends become friends?) both in school and out school contexts (e.g., extracurricular activities).

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra, Jan Kornelis Dijkstra, Mark Huisman (RUG), and Christian Berger (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile).
  • Funding: CONICYT; Period: September 1, 2016 – August 31, 2020  

Julia Torres, MSc: Meaningful Roles: Teaching Popular Bullies Acceptable Ways to Maintain Status
The school-wide anti-bullying program KiVa encourages peers to support victims and devalue bullying as a means of obtaining status. Its intervention efforts are focused on bystanders, for whom a change in behavior is not necessarily accompanied by a loss of important goals (most prominently status), as it would be for bullies. Thus, KiVa implicitly aims to increase the costs of bullying (peer interventions) while reducing its benefits (by discouraging peers from granting reputational benefits to bullies). However, a recent analysis suggests that KiVa is only effective against unpopular or average-popular bullies; high-popular bullies are resistant to peer efforts to alter social goals (benefits) or impose social sanctions (costs). This represents an important limitation of peer-initiated efforts, as peers appear to be unable to alter the behavior of the more powerful classmates. To improve intervention outcomes it is necessary to explicitly recognize the goal-directed nature of bullying and incorporate goal striving in the intervention, for example, by teaching or offering bullies prosocial alternative strategies for reaching status and affection goals. The ‘Meaningful Roles’ intervention aims to teach bullies socially acceptable ways to gain or maintain their status. It is an intervention that sets up meaningful roles for all children in a school and also provides positive reinforcements for performing the role through a system of using praise notes. The intervention is inspired by work on pupil responsibilities and school connectedness. The selection of children for various roles is guided by the children’s interests and needs. Bullies are specifically given roles that offer little opportunity to bully, are paired with socially competent children, and are part of a mutual system of peer praise for jobs well done. For that reason, it can be hypothesized that ‘Meaningful Roles’ allows bullies to acquire a prosocial basis for status achievement; build social competencies and adopt prosocial strategies; decrease bullying. If this proves to be correct, ‘Meaningful Roles’ will be the first intervention that is effective against high-popular bullies.
– World Anti-Bullying Forum: Meaningful Roles, May 2017
– SterkWerk: Populariteit hangt samen met negatief gedrag, April 2019
– Verus: Pesten voorkomen? Geef kinderen aanzien, April 2019

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra, Jan Kornelis Dijkstra, Gerine Lodder (RUG).
  • Funding: NWO VICI Program; Period: September 1, 2016 – August 31, 2020  

Marianne Hooijsma, MSc: Clashrooms: Interethnic Peer Relationships in Classrooms

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra, Jan Kornelis Dijkstra, Gijs Huitsing, and Andreas Flache (RUG).
  • Funding: PhD Fund Faculty BSS; Period: September 1, 2015 – August 31, 2019  
  • Manuscript committee: Miles Hewstone (University of Oxford, Finland), Maykel Verkuyten (Utrecht University), and Tom Snijders (RUG).

Tessa Kaufman, MSc: The Position of Chronic Victims and the Effectiveness of Curative Actions in Reducing Bullying

– Faces of Science: Profiel
– World Anti-Bullying Forum: Tackling Chronic Victimization with the Support Group and Bully-Targeted Approach, May 2017 
– Faces of Science: Uit je comfortzone op een congres, May 2017
– Kennislink: Wat is pesten?, August 2017
– Schooljournaal: Het monster van keer op keer: Subtiel pesten zorgt ook voor veel verdriet en frustratie, November 2017 
– Faces of Science: Schooluniformen: wondermiddel tegen pesten?, November 2017 
– Faces of Science: Honderd jaar vrouwelijk hoogleraarschap: Christina Salmivalli, December 2017
– Radio 1FM: Waarom pesten kinderen?, June 2018

  • Supervisors: René Veenstra, Gijs Huitsing, Tina Kretschmer (RUG).
  • Funding: NWO VICI Program; Period: September 1, 2015 – August 31, 2019  
  • Manuscript committee: Lucy Bowes (University of Oxford), Maja Dekovic (Utrecht University), and Siegwart Lindenberg (RUG).

Lydia Wijnen, MSc: Peer norms as context in social network processes and social development
What is considered normative in the classroom/school context might shape selection and influence processes among students with regards to academic achievement, antisocial and prosocial behavior. But who sets the norm? We will study: (a) the impact of descriptive norms (the scores of all peers in a setting) versus status norms (the scores of only popular peers in a setting) on selection and influence processes regarding academic achievement, antisocial and prosocial behavior; (b) to what extent these norms interact and explain the development of these three behaviors. 
– Radio 3FM: Interview met Saskia & Olivier over vriendschappen, October 2017 
– Website UU: Gaan vrienden op elkaar lijken?, October 2018
– Toegepaste Sociale Wetenschap: Meer statushiërarchie in de schoolklas leidt tot meer strijd om populariteit en daarmee tot meer agressie en pesterij, March 2019

  • Supervisors: Wilma Vollebergh, Zeena Harakeh (UU), Jan Kornelis Dijkstra, and René Veenstra (RUG).
  • Funding: NWO (PROO); Period: September 15, 2013 – January 15, 2020