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Top Story

One potential solution to bullying: social psychology

Betsy Levy Paluck has always been interested in how societies find ways to reject violence and prejudice. That curiosity led her to Princeton University, where she works as a researcher, and then to the halls of New Jersey's middle schools, to see whether social psychological theory could help students stamp out bullying and other forms of conflict. To make that happen, her research team relied on an unusual set of partners: students, including those identified by their classmates as trendsetters, team leaders and peer role models -- known in scientific terms as "social referents." Paluck said she started with a well-established concept in social psychology theory, which says people's perception of normative or accepted behavior can actually influence their decisions more than their own opinions. But, she said, experiments that field-test such theories are still fairly rare.

Visit Website | Image credit: Princeton University, Office of Communications, Denise Applewhite