Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Empirical investigation of the relationship between the theory of mind and bullying roles and between empathic capacities and bullying roles leading to new results

An achievement of the project was establishing new relationships between the variables tested in the University of Herts evaluation exercise, relating to bullying status, empathic ability and theory of mind (TOM). These results are discussed in detail in D7.2.1, but such was the amount of data collected that further results after the end of the project is expected.

Results were affected both by country and by gender. UK pupils scored higher on affective and cognitive empathy than Germans, with Portuguese pupils scoring in between: UK and Portuguese pupils show more affective empathy than German pupils while Portuguese and German pupils score lower on cognitive empathy than the UK pupils. This result may relate to the emphasis that is put on Personal and Social Education (PSE) in the UK. In all countries involved in the project, female pupils have higher affective empathy scores than male pupils, in line with existing results from empathy research.

The bullying questionnaire completed by both pupils and teachers, expectations confirmed that physical bullying can be more easily detected both by pupils and teachers than relational bullying and especially relational victimisation. This supports the idea that relational bullying takes place behind the back of the teacher and parts of the class. Portuguese pupils named significantly more victims of relational bullying than pupils from any other country. Portuguese results also displayed gender differences both for relational and physical bullying, with males being over-represented in the bullies and victims categories, and females being more frequently assigned to the neutrals category. Usability evaluation showed that children enjoy interacting with the software and that they empathise with the characters even though the physical appearance of the characters has been rated rather poorly, indicating that they seem to infer the emotions from situational cues rather than from the characters¿ facial and body expression. Pupils also preferred the interactive application to a teacher-led session on the topic, mainly because of matters of privacy.

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