Stories that move them: Changing children’s behaviour toward diverse peers

Shelley McKeown, Amanda Williams, Kristin Pauker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
338 Downloads (Pure)


Globally, our social worlds are becoming increasingly racially and ethnically diverse. Despite this, little attention has been given to how children negotiate this diversity. In this study we examine whether a value-in-diversity storybook intervention encourages young children to engage in intergroup contact with racially diverse peers. The lunchroom seating behaviour of 4- to 6-year-olds attending three racially diverse primary schools was recorded at three different points during a one-week period. Seating behaviour was coded based on the race of the children and levels of segregation were calculated (Campbell et al., 1996). Before hearing the story, we observed racial self-segregation; children were more likely to sit with same-race peers. However, immediately following the story, children were no longer significantly racially segregated. This effect was not maintained; up to 48 hours later children again showed evidence of racial self-segregation. Our findings suggest that exposure to racially diverse peers alone is not sufficient for promoting intergroup contact. We argue that it is vital to develop sustainable teacher-led interventions if we are to harness the potential of diverse school settings for bolstering intergroup relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-387
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number5
Early online date16 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Psychological Approaches for Studying Education


  • diversity
  • intergroup contact
  • intergroup behaviour
  • children


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