Dr. Tjitske de Groot PhD

Universitair docent
Pedagogiek in Diverse Samenlevingen

I am Assistant Professor of Development and Education in Inclusive Societies. I am interested in processes of exclusion and inclusion in society. These processes are often caused by negative prejudices, which lead to labeling people as ‘the other’. This process takes various forms, including stigmatization and polarization. In my research I want to focus on ways to bring people closer together, by asking the question: How can we stimulate inclusion through education? I am especially interested in contact-based interventions, for example through exchange interventions, and how we can optimize these interventions for all participants.  In my research I focus on prejudice, dialogue and contact interventions.

I take part in a variety of research projects in which we focus on contact between youth, in which we aim to promote more understanding between different groups. Through the project group Utrecht Door Elkaar we are involved in a project in which primary school students from different neighborhoods are getting to know each other through a school exchange, through our research we hope to optimalize such interventions and be able to advise on how to improve attitudes and skills through such interventions. In the SIDN project Grip op polarisatie in het wetenschappelijk onderwijs we look into the opportunities of an online dialogue platform to improve willingness and skills for communication of students with opposing opinions. 

I am also involved in the Filter Bubble Project: a design based research in which we develop an educative application that aims to make secondary school students aware of filtering mechanisms behind their online content. This project is based on the concerns of secondary school teachers in Utrecht, who observed that their students were presented with filtered online content on social media, which led to a variety of negative outcomes, such as increased polarization. The risk of filtered online content is, among others, that this content confirms and strengthens peoples’ point of view, but leaves little room for different perspectives. In the Filter Bubble Project we work together with teachers, students and other societal partners to develop a fitting intervention to make youth aware of online filtered content

My past research has focused on how to reduce health-related stigma. In my PhD research I focused on the stigmatization of people with albinism in Tanzania. People with albinism are fiercely stigmatized in this country and because of their condition they are excluded from society. In my research I explored which type of interventions and what strategies were effective in reducing the stigma of people with albinism on a community level. Together with local organizations several interventions were developed and evaluated, such as a radio intervention and a theatre intervention. Part of my research focused on the development and validation of research methods (qualitative and quantitative) that were fitting in the Tanzanian context and in relation to albinism related stigma.  Among other things my research proved that contact with someone with albinism was very important for people to improve their attitudes towards this stigmatized group. By getting to know people with albinism, people realized that they have a lot in common and empathy was generated. Through contact, stereotypes can be disproven and prejudices reduced.