Research Topic

Bridging the Gap between Research and Policy in Fostering Social and Emotional Skills

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About this Research Topic

The world and society are changing and with them, the skills needed to succeed in life and work. A faster pace of living and shift to urban environments requires greater use of the abilities to resist stress and control emotions. The resilience and optimism to cope with difficulties such as social immobility ...

The world and society are changing and with them, the skills needed to succeed in life and work. A faster pace of living and shift to urban environments requires greater use of the abilities to resist stress and control emotions. The resilience and optimism to cope with difficulties such as social immobility or job insecurity can bolster our personal and professional prospects. Ageing and more diverse populations, decreasing levels of social and institutional trust, and the dismantling of traditional social networks place additional emphasis on people’s sense of trust, cooperation, tolerance, and compassion. The increasing accessibility to information, but also to misinformation like “fake news”, calls for people’s ability to think critically and act independently. Growing automatisation in work settings places an additional premium on skills that are difficult to automate including creativity, imagination and the capacity to innovate. Rising complexity and the increasing pace of technological change require the development of self-regulation and meta-cognitive skills that will enable individuals to monitor and direct their mental processes and to become lifelong learners able to adjust to rapid changes.

Classical academic skills such as math, reading, and science are still necessary, but they are not enough to ensure the success and well-being of individuals, especially in the years to come. As a result, social and emotional skills are increasingly becoming one of the most important drivers of personal and professional development in modern societies. People with the skills to adapt and overcome a future of uncertainty, cooperate with people from different cultures and backgrounds, solve problems collaboratively, and generate innovative solutions to address past and present challenges will be indispensable in the future. Schools, teachers, and families have an essential role to play in raising healthy and skilled children by fostering not only their cognitive development but also their social and emotional development.

Governments are increasingly directing their policies towards enhancing the development of social and emotional skills. Thus, social and emotional learning is becoming part of the curriculum in many countries. However, schools are still under pressure to improve their academic performance, which can leave limited resources for fostering social and emotional skill development. Although a large body of research has already provided substantial empirical evidence on how to conceptualise, assess, and intervene on social and emotional skills, the gap between research and policy remains. The purpose of this Research Topic is to gather empirical evidence on current advances and future challenges in assessing and developing social and emotional skills in young people. Our aspiration is that this Research Topic will contribute to develop student-centred policies to tackle a system-wide implementation and to enhance policies to improve the development and well-being of young people.

The subtopics include but are not limited to the following aspects:
- Assessment of social and emotional skills (e.g. cross-sectional, multiple cohorts, cross cultural, anchoring vignettes, forced-choice items)
- Intervention on social and emotional skills (e.g. socioemotional learning, practice, program effectiveness)
- Predictive validity of personality measures (e.g. education, clinical, entrepreneurship, longitudinal students, structural equation models)
- Policy and practice (e.g. policy briefs, government implementation)


Keywords: Social and emotional skills, personality development, socioemotional learning, cross-cultural, policy research


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