Academic journal article International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Assessment of an Intervention on Social Behavior, Intragroup Relations, Self-Concept and Prejudiced Cognitions during Adolescence

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Assessment of an Intervention on Social Behavior, Intragroup Relations, Self-Concept and Prejudiced Cognitions during Adolescence

Article excerpt

This study assesses the effects of an intervention program applied to groups of adolescents. The research is in the frame for the development of socio-moral values and education in human rights. The increase in racism and violence in Europe, also observed in the sociocultural context in which this work is developed, demostrates the need to develop intervention programs for adolescents that foment behaviors to have others into account, acceptance and respect of differences, as well as to reduce discriminatory and antisocial behaviors. The current concerns with topics related to xenophobic attitudes, prejudiced cognitions and the violent behavior of adolescent groups, all of which have a high media profile, and constitutes the background of this study.

The work here is within the framework of research on the contributions to human development of games and cooperative interaction among peers, and employs a cognitive behavioral approach. It is part of a research line spanning roughly a decade, in which the effects of several cooperative game programs for children aged 6 to 12 were assessed (Garaigordobil, 1992, 1993, 1995a, 1995b, 1995c, 1996a, 1996b, 1999, Garaigordobil & Echebarria, 1995, Garaigordobil et al., 1996). These previous studies provided empirical evidence of the positive contribution of interventions that encourage communication and cooperative interactions among group members with regard to variables of children's social and personal development, such as self-concept, intragroup communication, relations of acceptance among peers, cognitive strategies of social interaction, ability to cooperate, etc.

The present study is supported by the conclusions derived from research showing the important role that positive, friendly and cooperative interaction among peers may play in personal and social development (Bijstra & Jackson, 1998; Boulton & Smith, 1996; Bukowsky et al., 1998; Miller et al., 1991; Putman et al., 1996; Roberts, 1997; Slavin & Cooper, 1999; Stephan & Finlay, 1999; Sterling, 1990). Studies with different epistemological approaches analyzing the effects of programs administered during adolescence have found positive results. Vernon's study (1998) concludes that the Passport Program had positive effects on socio-personal development. The program stimulates emotional, cognitive and social development, and the activities teach young people effective strategies for dealing with specific problems to their age group. From a conceptual point of view based on the principles of social learning, Bijstra and Jackson (1998) assessed a training program for developing social skills that had positive effects, with an increase in social interaction and self-esteem. Royer et al. (1999), evaluating the effects of a social skills training program, obtained results that showed a selfreported increase in assertion and empathy for the experimental group, though parents perceived no differences in behavior problems or social skills. Haney and Durlak (1998) made a meta-analysis of the results of 116 intervention programs, which indicated significant improvements in children's and adolescents' self-esteem and self-concept, and significant concomitant changes in behavioral, personality, and academic functioning.

In Spain, a relevant precedent of this research line are the studies carried out by Pelechano on interpersonal skills and problem solving (Pelechano, 1996; Pelechano & González, 1999). Within the Multiple Intelligence model, this researcher proposes that interpersonal skills take part of social intelligence, and he has designed and applied training programs of interpersonal skills with children and adolescents, obtaining positive results.

Another line of research has confirmed the positive effects of programs that stimulate cooperative interaction. Buckmaster (1994) evaluated the effects of activities that promote cooperation in problem-solving, finding evidence of increased student's understanding of self and other. …

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