Compelling Social Experiment Tackles Back-To-School Anxiety
Kleenex brand partners with researchers from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence to turn apathy into empathy among middle school students
PR Newswire, DALLAS, July 19, 2016
In partnership with researchers at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Kleenex brand conducts a social experiment to equip students with one item less likely to make back-to-school supply lists: empathy.
Despite its absence, research suggests empathy is in high demand. Students prepared with social strategies are better equipped to navigate social and academic challenges themselves as well as to help others through challenging times.1
Research suggests that the transition to middle school might be a particularly challenging time. Feelings of unease are more pronounced among this age group due to significant changes in developmental and hormonal physiology, social environment and academic requirements. These emotions are amplified by pressure from social media, parents and peers.2 However, research notes that children who have tools and strategies to connect with others and understand they are not alone are more likely to thrive socially and academically.3
“We asked ourselves, ‘What if we could unlock the inner caregiver among those with the toughest exterior – middle schoolers -- by arming them with one simple tool before they set foot in the classroom?’. ‘What would it look like if someone showed them the impact kindness can have before they arrived in middle school?’” said Victoria Tylinski, Senior Brand Manager, Kimberly-Clark. “We can all relate to the emotional, and physical, challenges of entering adolescence and starting middle school. As the category leader, Kleenex Facial Tissues is highlighting these otherwise overlooked life moments to inspire students and their caregivers to share a gesture of Kleenex Care this back-to-school season.”
Researchers from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence surveyed fifth grade students during their last week of elementary school about their feelings toward transitioning to middle school this fall. Their pre-experiment responses mimicked existing findings, and reflected a range of logistic, social, and academic challenges. Of the students surveyed, 87 percent report feeling worry (a little or a lot) and 76 percent experience stress. Specifically, 91 percent of students worry about getting to class on time, not knowing where they were going, and getting bad grades, 69 percent worry about not fitting in, and 67 percent worry about being judged by others.
“Back-to-school is filled with mixed emotions, from anxiety and nervousness to excitement and curiosity. In fact, during the social experiment, students named 54 different emotions that they were experiencing,” said Shauna Tominey, Ph.D. from The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
To conduct the social experiment, Kleenex brand sponsored a workshop led by researchers at Yale with a group of students preparing to enter middle school to teach them pro-social strategies, including creating a “Kleenex Care Kit.” Each kit contained a Kleenex® Slim Wallet with a custom sticker wrapping where they could share a message to someone in need of care. The majority of students (55 percent) reported that making the kit taught them new strategies to manage their concerns about going to middle school. Additionally, the post-experiment survey showed that 64 percent of students reported feeling more confident, 59 percent less alone and 57 percent less worried.
“It was as simple as using Kleenex Facial Tissues to open a dialogue about the students’ concerns and discuss ways to face them and support their classmates at the workshop,” added Lori Nathanson, Ph.D. from The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
The experiment, captured in a video, is live on Facebook.com/Kleenex. As part of the larger “Someone Needs One” program, Kleenex brand is challenging people to be more aware of overlooked, everyday opportunities to show that they care this back-to-school season and beyond.
Kimberly-Clark (NYSE: KMB) and its well-known global brands are an indispensable part of life for people in more than 175 countries. Every day, nearly a quarter of the world's population trust Kimberly-Clark brands and the solutions they provide to enhance their health, hygiene and well-being. With brands such as Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex and Depend, Kimberly-Clark holds the No.1 or No. 2 share position in 80 countries. To keep up with the latest news and to learn more about the company's 144-year history of innovation, visit www.kimberly-clark.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
1 Jones, Greenberg, & Crowley, 2015
2 Qualter, Whiteley, Hutchinson, & Pope, 2007
3 Akos, 2002; Arnett, 2014