Genetic Social Psychology Lab
The Genetic Social Psychology Lab at the University of Cyprus is run by Dr. Charis Psaltis and Dr. Irini Kadianaki. Our research projects seek to understand the social-psychological processes that underlie issues of change, inter-subjective contact and communication, especially with regards to the contexts of immigration and divided societies as well as learning and cognitive development in the educational context.
Some of the issues we are particularly interested in are: microgenesis, ontogenesis and sociogenesis of social representations, coping with stigma and racism, symbolic mediation in human change and development, links between social representations and identity, collective memory and history teaching, the social dynamics of asymmetries in social interaction and cognitive development, nationalism, co-operation and conflict. To approach our questions we employ both quantitative and qualitative methodology.
Lifelong Learning project "Assessment, tutorial structures and initial teacher education of trainee students in the subjects Political/Civic Education, Social/Cultural Studies and History in Europe - A comparative study on Structures and Standards of Initial Training for History Teachers in Europe".
PENEK 0609/30, The effect of gender and epistemic authority on children's social relations, conversations and cognitve development (Young research and PhD student Anna Zapiti supervised by Charis Psaltis)
A. Undergraduate Students:
Ioannou, S. (2006). Intergroup contact in elementary and high schools of Cyprus
Mavrogiorgou, M. (2012). Representation of Immigrants in the Discourse of Greek Citizens: Justifying Opinions Regarding Granting Citizenship
Mouyi, R. (2012). Immigration in Greece: Representations of the Nation and National Identity as Strategies of Racism Denial
Palechorou, I.(2012). Immigration in Greece: Racism, Prejudice, Xenophobia as Semantic Constructions
B. Master Students:
Kyprianou, Μ. (2009). National Identities and Prejudice of High School pupils
Andreou, C. (2012). The perceptions of Greek Cypriot students concerning History lesson in secondary educations and their attitudes towards the Cyprus' issue and the Turkish Cypriots
Christodoulou, C. (ongoing). Social Representations of Homosexuality in the Discourse of Cypriot Citizens
Κapetaniou, I. (2012). Beliefs and practices of history education in Cyprus and attitudes of Greek- Cypriot Students towards the other community.
Ktoris, A. (2012). The contact hypothesis and its influence in shaping the attitudes of Greek Cypriot students of 5th and 6th grade of elementary school towards Turkish Cypriots.
Panayiotou, M.(2012). "I am not a Racist, but...". The Phenomenon of Denial of Racism in the Discourse of Greek Citizens who Comment on the Law of Granting Citizenship and Naturalization of Immigrants
Vrachimis, N. (2012). Intergroup Contact and the Reduction of Intergroup Prejudice as Social Influence
C. PhD Students:
Filipou, G. (ongoing, supervised by Charis Psaltis): Secondary Transfer Effects of Intergroup Contact
Nathanail, G.(ongoing, sypervised by Irini Kadianaki). Perceiving and Coping with Mental Illness from the Perspective of the Mentally Ill.
Selected Theses Abstracts:
The perceptions of Greek Cypriot students concerning History lesson in secondary educations and their attitudes towards the Cyprus' issue and the Turkish Cypriots.
Ιn Cyprus, as in other societies experiencing ethnic conflicts, the course of history is often used as a means of promoting narratives that focus on the plight of the nation and promote the legalization of the national goals. Historical narrative is identified usually with the "truth", enhancing significantly the function of history rather than historical knowledge but as a national heritage. Within this context, the main goal of historical education is the cultivation of national consciousness and the creation of national identity through the process of building a "national memory", which most often happens to be deliberately traumatic and vindictive. This tactic, however, results in the loss of trust and contact among students towards the members of the other community and the reproduction and perpetuation of prejudice and "national" hate.
The aim of this study was to examine the perceptions of Greek Cypriot high school students for the textbooks of history in secondary education and the way they are taught the course, but also to consider the epistemological beliefs about the nature of the course of history, the representations that they have of the recent history of Cyprus and the Cypriot problem, the names they use to identify themselves as a member of the community to which they belong and the possible relation of all these factors to feelings, attitudes, contact and friendships with the members of the other community.
For the purposes of this survey data obtained by 301 Greek Cypriots students who attended the First (N = 62), Second (N = 129) and Third (N = 110) class of the Pancyprium Gymnasium in Nicosia (which is high school). The research data were collected through a questionnaire and the research material was analyzed with SPSS 17.0, a computer program for statistical analysis. The results, through correlation and (stepwise) regression analysis, showed that the students who believe that the current textbooks are pluralistic and that their teachers cultivate critical thinking, tend to be attached to Greek national consciousness, identify themselves with the Greek Cypriot identity and tend to repel the idea of contact with members of the T / C community. The opposite seems to happen, however, to students who believe that history textbooks are one-sided. Regarding the epistemological beliefs, the results showed that constructivist and relativistic views meet simultaneously in both categories of students, suggesting that there might be epistemological confusion about the nature of the course of history.
Beliefs and practices of history education in Cyprus and attitudes of Greek- Cypriot Students towards the other community
The purpose of this study is to investigate the attitudes of Greek Cypriot higher school (Gymnasium) students towards the other community (Turkish Cypriots) and whether the representations of students about the methods, objectives and content of history teaching relate to such attitudes.
At present, history education in Cyprus is mainly focused on providing fundamental knowledge and promoting Greek national identity (Perikleous 2010;Makriyianni & Psaltis,2007) In recent years some serious debates have risen concerning history education and the content of history text books. Some groups suggest that history education must be oriented towards the development of students' historical thinking so it's an essential need for history books to be revised for achieving that goal. Others are posing an opposite opinion claiming that this might affect the national identity that students have already formed or the way they form their national identity. A recent study conducted in a sample of Greek-Cypriot teachers (Zempylas et al, 2010) reported how teachers' understanding of peaceful coexistence and reconciliation influenced their " emotional readiness " to accept a new educational objective peaceful co-existence between Greek-Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in schools. The study found that even though Greek-Cypriot teachers acknowledged the importance of teaching for peaceful co-existence, they were reluctant to do so in their own classrooms due to their lack of professional preparation and secondly due to their ideological positions(also see Psaltis, Lytras & Costache, 2011).
In most history books Turks are being presented as the ultimate enemy ( Papadakis 2008), a fact that might affect the relationship between Greek and Turkish Cypriots since it might has as an outcome the formation of negative attitudes and behaviors towards not only Turkish people but also Turkish-Cypriots .
Through a quantitative and qualitative study we are to aiming to investigate the attitudes of Greek Cypriot students for the other community and whether the representations of students about the methods, objectives and content of history teaching relate to those attitudes.
The contact hypothesis and its influence in shaping the attitudes of Greek Cypriot students of 5th and 6th grade of elementary school towards Turkish Cypriots
The aim of the thesis was to investigate the relation between intergroup contact and reducing prejudice towards the Turkish Cypriots among students aged 11- 12. The study employed quantitative approach and used questionnaires for gathering the data. The participants were 343 students (boys= 179 and girls= 164) from 6 primary schools.
Data analysis included factor analysis, bivariate correlations, independent- samples t-tests and multiple regression techniques. PCA factor analysis showed realistic threat, symbolic threat and positive attitudes towards Turkish Cypriot as factors. Bivariate correlations showed a negative relationship between positive attitudes and intergroup anxiety and a positive relationship between positive attitude and positive stereotypes. Symbolic threat increases with age. Independent-samples t-tests were conducted to compare the symbolic threats, realistic threat, attitudes, contact, intergroup anxiety and stereotypes scores among boys and girls and revealed significant differences only in symbolic threats and intergroup anxiety score with boys scoring higher on symbolic threats but lower on intergroup anxiety. Multiple regression revealed that 40% of the variance in attitude scores can be explained by stereotypes, intergroup anxiety and intergroup contact. Implications for further research and educational policy and practice are discussed.
Keywords: Intergroup contact; Greek-Cypriot children; in-group/ out-group attitudes
"I am not a Racist, but...". The Phenomenon of Denial of Racism in the Discourse of Greek Citizens who Comment on the Law of Granting Citizenship and Naturalization of Immigrants
The entry of immigrants into a host society is likely to create feelings of xenophobia and racism, to the citizens of this society. As a result, individuals from the host society in many occasions express negative views for the immigrants (e.g., immigrants are responsible for the increase in crime; they have altered the ethnic and religious identity of our country etc.). In order to avoid being characterized as racists when expressing their views on immigrants they use strategies.
In the current study we will examine the strategies of denial of showing and expressing racist views in the way of expression of Greek citizens. All the data were found posted online in the forum of the Ministry of the Interior, Decentralization and e-Governance and are comments of the public. The comments were about the legislative bill of the Greek Government for providing the Greek citizenship to immigrants. For the study we selected comments of four users that were analyzed based on the principles of discourse analysis and rhetorical psychology. This method focuses on the speech not only as it is expressed but also as a structure with a specific goal (e.g., categorization, avoidance of people characterized as biased towards immigrants etc.). Our results reveal specific references to the Greek nation and representations of immigrants, as strategies to justify the negative attitude of Greek society towards immigrants.
Intergroup Contact and the Reduction of Intergroup Prejudice as Social Influence
In the specific research, the role of contact in the reduction of intergroup prejudice was examined. For the purposes of the research Greek Cypriot female participants were used, aged from 18-35 years old (Μ= 20.7, SD= 3.2), who in their majority were undergraduate students. All participants were randomly assigned to the experimental conditions of the research, concerning contact type (direct contact Vs no contact-script) and contact quality (reapproaching scenario Vs rejecting scenario).
The results of the research showed that the characteristics that participants attributed to the source of the message mediated the relation between the type or the quality of contact with intergroup anxiety and/or trust to the outgroup. More positive representations lead to the reduction of intergroup anxiety and to the increase of trust. No result though was found to be preserved in time.
Keywords: Intergroup contact, intergroup prejudice, trust, intergroup anxiety