Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 403–412 | Cite as

Changing Peer Perceptions and Victimization through Classroom Arrangements: A Field Experiment

  • Yvonne H. M. van den Berg
  • Eliane Segers
  • Antonius H. N. Cillessen


The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of an experimental manipulation of distance between classmates on peer affiliations and classroom climate. Participants were 651 10-to-12 year-old children (48% boys) from 27 Grade 5 and Grade 6 classrooms of 23 schools, who were assigned to an experimental or a control condition. Peer affiliations were assessed with peer nominations and likeability ratings before and after the manipulation of distance. In the experimental condition, children who did not like each other were placed closer together for several weeks in order to promote more positive peer relations. The decrease in distance lead to higher likeability ratings for children who were perceived most negatively at the beginning of the school year. In addition, a reduction in peer-reported victimization and social withdrawal nominations was found. The results suggest that the classroom seating arrangement can be used as a tool to improve liking among peers and reduce peer-reported problem behaviors in the classroom.


Peer relationships Sociometric methods Proximity Victimization Primary education 



This research was support by a Research Master grant from the Behavioural Science Institute to the first author. The authors are grateful to the children, parents, teachers, and school administrators who made this research possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yvonne H. M. van den Berg
    • 1
  • Eliane Segers
    • 1
  • Antonius H. N. Cillessen
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavioural Science InstituteRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

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