London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Semantic Selection Test: A new methodological approach towards the exploration of children’s views on social issues

Author(s) Szabó, E.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2010  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell, Lifelong Learning and Active Citizenship  
Age group -  
Social issues often have moral, ethical or value connotations which make our research complicated as well as requiring high ethical standards from the researchers. There are several methods of exploring the real opinions and viewpoints of children and teenagers. The most fruitful approaches have been the qualitative techniques, eg. interviews (starting with Piaget), associations (Abric, 1994, Szalay, 1967), or drawings (Bombi, 2002). The Semantic Selection Test (Urbánek, 2000, de’ Escury, 2008) is a semi-projected test that can be useful to reveal children’s views on different social issues including attitudes towards other nations and ethnic groups. The subject has to choose 8 pictures (out of 16 pictures) that he/she feels most relevant to a given concept (eg.: prime minister, gypsies, money etc.). The test gives an opportunity to explore the place of these social issues (or concepts) in a two- dimensional semantic area where the dimensions are defined by the researcher according to the aim of the study. In our study we used this test to explore the feelings of Hungarian teenagers (N=120) towards five ethnic groups in two dimensions (love and fear). The results showed that the teens were most afraid of the “Roma (gipsy)” and “Arab” minorities, and had the most positive attitudes towards “Italians”. The test result shows significant correlations with the findings on Bogardus Social Distance Scale which confirms the validity of the test. The greatest advantage of SST is that it does not require well developed verbal competencies, therefore it can be used with very young children (from 5 years) and under-educated samples, too. Moreover, by its projective nature, it also helps to avoid socially desirable responses. Key words: ethnic groups, attitudes, semantic area, feelings, social distance

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