An intervention to develop perspective-taking reduced peer violence, boosted reciprocity, altruism and trust, and encouraged inter-ethnic friendships

Read “Building Social Cohesion in Ethnically Mixed Schools: An Intervention on Perspective Taking” by Sule Alan, Ceren Baysan, Mert Gumren and Elif Kubilay here.

Millions of Syrians have been forced to flee the country’s civil war and start new lives in new countries. One quarter of the 4 million Syrian refugees that Turkey has received are children, placing an increased burden on the teachers at schools attended by the refugees. In this VoxDevTalk, Sule Alan discusses her work with Ceren Baysan, Mert Gumren and Elif Kubilay on a programme designed to build cohesion in these schools. The programme involved creating activities and materials that teachers used, over the course of an academic year, to help children develop cognitive empathy (or ‘perspective-taking’) – a core trait for being sociable and successful in work and in life in general. 

The programme led to a huge decline in peer violence and boosted reciprocity, altruism and – crucially for a cohesive society – trust among children. It also encouraged the development of inter-ethnic friendships, which in turn improved the Turkish language skills of the Syrian children. 

Syrian refugees Turkey Social cohesion Schools Immigration Cognitive empathy Integration