Paluck & Shepherd, 2012: Promoting anti-bullying messages via influential students increased efforts to deescalate conflicts and defend other students among students closer to the influencers
High school students identified through social network analyses as social referents (nominated by many peers as high status and as friends) were randomized to an anti-bullying intervention in which they identified roles students can play in harassment, wrote essays and discussed experiences of harassment. They then read their essays at a school assembly, performed a skit illustrating common types of harassment and ways to speak out against it, and created posters of themselves wearing anti-harassment slogans. A week later students who were more socially connected to social referents randomized to the treatment versus a control condition reported seeing conflict as normal less and greater efforts to deescalate conflicts and to stand up for peers subject to harassment. Toward the end of the year they were more likely to be nominated by teachers as defending other students from harassment and received fewer disciplinary citations for harassment-related infractions.