Kat met zonnebril
Kat met zonnebril

Cool @ School

1 July 2023 until 30 June 2028
Project type

What is the research about?
This research wants to better understand how kids think about and respond to being (un)popular, and how it may shape how they interact with classmates. To achieve this goal, we will ask children questions about their goals and about who in their class exhibits what behavior, we will measure how easily children associate high and low popularity with pleasant and unpleasant words in computer games, as well as measure children's physical responses (heartbeat and ”sweaty palms”) in hypothetical situations in which they might become more or less popular.

What insights can be expected?
The study will provide insights tailored to the variation in real-world educational settings. We will further advance research on bullying in schools by developing a toolkit to identify young people who are more prone to engage in bullying, and work on developing targeted interventions so schools can reduce bullying by addressing the ‘coolness’ concerns and needs of children.

What does the research look like?
In this project, different measures were carefully designed to understand and track how children experience and think about the social dynamic in their classroom. This includes one classroom session of up to 45 minutes followed by one individual session of up to 45 minutes.
Classroom session
Children will complete questionnaires that measure their own perceptions, beliefs, and motivations about social safety, well-being, peer status, and bullying, as well as reporting on their classmates' social status and involvement in bullying.
Individual session
Children will complete a number of tasks on the computer.

  • They will categorize positive and negative words, as well as words related to "cool" and "uncool". The speed of their responses will be recorded.
  • They will be given limited time to choose how to respond in a social situation (e.g., being cool in class versus doing well at a task), their choice and speed of their responses will be recorded.
  • They will play a ball throwing game on the computer with “pretend” other players. Their facial expressions, heartbeat, and ”sweaty palms” are measured as they play the game. Kids will likely not experience this as very straining as facial expression are measured with a webcam, heartbeat with a finger clip sensor, and ‘sweaty palms’ with 2 stickers on their fingers.

What does participating bring students and their teacher?

  • We will make sure to minimize the impact of the research on the kids (and make sure the kids find it fun!). In addition, participating in this type of research provides children with an accessible way to share their experiences or concerns with the teacher. Students will be informed that they will have the opportunity to meet with the teacher to share their emotions or discuss concerns.
  • Teachers will be provided with a report including an overview of the situation in their own classroom. This information is valuable for teachers to better understand the classroom climate.
  • The teachers will be provided with classroom-based social safety reports. These reports are in accordance with the guidelines of the Education Inspectorate under the Social Safety Act.
  • All participating classes will be provided with a lesson package introducing them into the wonderful world of psychology, as well as the book (tussen je oren) on which the lesson package is based. This is a psychology lesson package including explanation videos and classroom assignments for the upper elementary grades.
  • This is a good opportunity for children to learn about all aspects of scientific research in a fun way and to see what they themselves can contribute. In addition, from experience, children usually like to be listened to and are happy that they are given the opportunity to share their experiences in the classroom.


Contact information