chEERS Lab

Socio-emotional processes and their relation to social and non-social anxiety in developmental and intellectual disabilities (PEERSEP)

Responsible person(s) and collaborators: Prof. Dr. Andrea Samson & chEERS Lab
Funding: SNSF Professorship project (PP00P1_176722) and Unidistance Suisse/FernUni Schweiz
Timeline: September 2018 - December 2022
Link: --
Project description: Anxiety disorders are one of the major concerns in developmental and intellectual disabilities. Since anxieties significantly impact social and adaptive functioning, it is of great urgency to better understand potential risk and protective factors. Given the crucial role of social approach, positive emotions, and emotion regulation for optimal social and adaptive functioning, the goal of this project is to study these three phenomena in individuals with developmental disabilities with a particular focus on Williams syndrome (WS) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In certain respects, WS and ASD present with opposite profiles in the prevalence of social and non-social anxieties, as well as in social approach and positive emotions. Moreover, while autistic individuals seem to have increased difficulties regulating emotions, little is known about emotion regulation in individuals with WS. Considering these opposite patterns, the two seem make a promising model for the study of socio-emotional phenomena as potential risk and protective factors for social and non-social anxiety. With a multi-method approach (including virtual reality), the goal of this project is to examine in a multi-method approach how these three socio-emotional phenomena relate to each other and how they are linked to social and non-social anxiety in autistic individuals and individuals with WS, compared to a group with non-specific intellectual disability. The insights derived from this project will help to inform interventions targeting emotional difficulties in individuals with developmental disabilities.


Socio-emotional processes in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders (SOEMO)

Responsible person(s) and collaborators: Prof. Dr. Andrea Samson & Noémie Treichel
Funding: SNSF Professorship project (PP00P1_176722)
Timeline: September 2018 - December 2022
Link: --
Project: This project in collaboration with Prof. Jo Van Herwegen (Insitute of Education, UCL, London) is a continuation of the FNS PEERSEP project and aims to better understand how different social and emotional phenomena are articulated in children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Williams-Beuren syndrome, Down syndrome, and idiopathic intellectual disabilities. The purpose of this project is to examine the associations between social approach, emotions, emotion regulation, humor, and anxiety. The insights gained from this project can increase our knowledge about the social-emotional life of people with developmental disabilities, with the aim to contribute to targeted interventions to improve their social and emotional life.

Socio-emotional skills and academic performance in adolescents in the school context: a comparative evaluation of mindfulness meditation, improvisational theater, and board games

Responsible person(s) and collaborators: Prof. Dr David Sander, Dr Nathalie Mela, et Dr Gwladys Rey (Université de Genève); Alexandra Zaharia et Prof. Dr Andrea Samson (Université de Fribourg et UniDistance)
Funding: FNS project at the University of Geneva (FNS 100019_188966) and Unidistance Suisse/FernUni Schweiz
Timeline: September 2018 – December 2023
Link: This project aims to respond to Swiss educational initiatives concerning the reinforcement of socio-emotional skills of adolescents in the school context. The project will take place at the Centre de Formation Pré-Professionnelle in Geneva. The aim of the study is to compare and validate three interventions (mindfulness meditation, improvisational theater and board games on emotional competencies) and to test their efficacy on intra-personal (e.g., emotion regulation, stress management) and interpersonal (e.g., empathy, conflict management) competencies of adolescents. An active control group (office automation) is also included in this design. The interventions will last 9 weeks. To test the effects of the interventions, we will ask participants to complete questionnaires and behavioral tasks before and after the intervention. We will also investigate the effects on adolescents' general functioning in the school context (e.g., absenteeism, academic performance).


The potential of board games on the assessment of emotional competencies in 10 to 12-year-old children

Responsible person(s) and collaborators: Alexandra Zaharia, MA, & Prof. Dr Andrea Samson
Timeline: November 2020 - December 2023
Funding: Unidistance Suisse/FernUni Schweiz
Link: The main objective of this study was to examine the association between performance in educational games on emotions and emotional competencies such as recognition, regulation, and differentiation of emotions in children aged 10 to 12 years. The games were created in the chEERS Lab with the game design support of Entrée de Jeux (La Chaux-de-Fonds). The aim of this study is to test the functional prototypes of the games and to understand the extent to which emotional competencies predict game performance and thus better investigate the potential of these games as assessment and training tools for emotional competencies. Students' emotional and cognitive skills, as well as children's play experience were assessed. The project took place in elementary school in the canton of Valais. The results of this study will serve as a basis for the advancement of the prototypes of these games.



SEN-COPING-19 project: How did families with special educational needs cope with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Responsible person and collaborators: Prof. Andrea Samson, Prof. Jo Van Herwegen, chEERSLab & SEN-Coping Consortium
Timeline: April 2020 - December 2022
Funding: SNSF Professorship project (PP00P1_176722), Unidistance Suisse/FernUni Schweiz, and European Federation Williams Syndrome (FEWS).
Link: https://www.specialneedscovid.orgProject: This study aims to better understand the situation of families with a child with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) during the first few months of the pandemic. A survey translated into 16 languages and distributed worldwide with the help of 60 international collaborators asked families about their experiences during the pandemic with a particular focus on their anxiety, worries, and emotion regulation patterns at three different time points (before the pandemic, at the beginning of the pandemic and when the respondents filled out the survey). First results of single countries have already been published.