A collaborative sociometric research project

When Martica Bacallao, PhD, TEP , Linnea Carlson-Sabelli, PhD, TEP and I, Ann Hale, met last Fall we discussed the possibilities of moving forward with providing evidenced based research on viability of role reversal as a process for improving interpersonal perception. Long term goal is to have role reversal be taught in schools. The next step we discussed was to look at empathy training currently being taught in relation to anti-bullying efforts in school systems. Our thinking was to have a research project be funded, and that anti-bullying was a likely source of funding.

I have begun a literature review. As I look into what I have found as the usual sociometric measure used to assess “popularity” and “perceived popularity” of schoolchildren, the questions being asked of kids is “who do you like most?” “Who do you like least?” This approach to studying the sociometric makeup of a classroom is counter to Moreno’s vision, which has been to study choices based on a specific activity, and removing the question of like/don’t like from the field of inquiry. And while like/don’t like is more easily understood dynamically by children, having it become accepted and replicated by approved testing, closes the door on reflecting on other children as potential partners and playmates based on a skill or an ability. Quoted in many of the studies is the same reference to Coie, JD, Dodge, KA, and Coppotelli, H “Dimensions and types of social status: a cross age perspective., in Developmental Psychology (1982): 18: 557-570. This article, now over 30 years old, is a chief resource for people on “sociometric testing” and still being used.

If you, or others whom you know, have an interest in pursuing this subject, and helping to “update” those conducting sociometric explorations in the schools, please get in touch. And, we’d love to hear from any of you currently involved in empathy training with children. annehale@cox.net

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