Elizabeth Englander on Using the Ostracism Case Study
Elizabeth Englander is a professor of Psychology at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts
"This case study can be a useful tool because it has a very clear timeline. So, it really lays out the sequence of events, and that can be useful because adults can take students through the sequence of events and say to them, ‘At what point in the sequence could this have been resolved? How—what could they have done differently at point—at time 2 or time 3 that could have resolved this instead of letting it blow up?’ The case study, I think, is also useful because it allows you to see that no one is satisfied with the outcome; there is no real winner in this kind of case. Students, when they are embroiled in that kind of conflict, and particularly in bullying situations, are bent on winning; they’re bent on successfully using the situation for themselves. So, to show them that there really isn’t a happy outcome for anybody I think is important.
The other way that I think this case study can be used is, because it gives you the perspective of each of the players, it can show students how those perspectives can actually make situations worse rather than helping to end them happily. And I would focus particularly on the fact that the kids involved really didn’t talk about, so much about their parts in the conflict, they talked more about their own victimizations and how that is a normal thing to do and feeling defensive like that is natural, but it, you know, I might pose to students, something like, ‘If you were talking to this person who was your friend and they said this to you, what would you say to them that could help them fix the situation rather than keep it going?”