Lydia Krabbendam - LINK NAAR ONDERZOEK?

Lydia Krabbendam - 200x200I start each one of my studies with a great deal of curiosity and the hope of finding support for the hypothesis I have formulated. This was also the case with the study I began in 2012, on the influence of culture on the development of social skills and the underlying cerebral processes. In our daily life we switch continually from one mindset to another: you may be a daughter at home, a pupil at school and a playmate in the playground. All kinds of stimuli trigger these switches, which occur automatically. What I studied is how various mindsets, which are related to the culture within which you grow up, influence your social skills.

This study is still ongoing, but the initial results shows that we can easily switch between different cultural mindsets: for example, our behaviour may be governed by a collectivistic mindset even though we grew up in an individualistic culture.

My application for funding for a follow-up study on how social skills are related to social relationships in secondary education was approved early in 2015. I wanted to know where secondary-school pupils got the skills they needed to understand others, resolve conflicts and so on. I took a practice-driven approach, making use of methods for mapping social networks that had been tried and tested by social scientists and combining them with new methods of investigating the activity of the brain. This allows us, for example, to determine whether there are special areas of the brain that enable adolescents to learn social skills faster once they have mastered the art of developing social relationships easily. We performed measurements both in the laboratory and in school at various times spread over a three-year period. Pupils were given a diary app that they could install on their smartphone, which enabled them to record their social contacts. One of the encouraging results of this study is that both 16- and 24-year-olds can learn from social experience.

The exciting thing about the present time is that we can combine behavioural studies with increasingly deep investigation of brain activity. I am very glad that the new Faculty of Behavioural and Human Movement Sciences unites three disciplines – psychology, education theory and human movement sciences. I am confident that this multidisciplinary approach will very soon raise the quality of our research to a new, higher level.