Inclusive Education and the Psychology of Aggression and Evil

Prof. Thomas Gumpel

My research focuses on two primary areas. As an aggression researcher, I am interested in youth aggression and victimization, specifically in physical, relational/social and sexual bullying and victimization. I am interested in why kids do what they do, and how do they explain it to themselves that their behaviors were justified. When we engage in different forms of moral disengagement while we dislike or devalue the victim, we are able to stand by and enable victimization. In a larger sense, I am interested in the psychology of evil and the interplay between personal characteristics and organizational structures and how they promote willful harm-doing. Recently we have begun to look at the narratives people tell themselves and how those narratives change memories of violent and coercive episodes among both perpetrators and victims.

My second line of research deals with policy analyses of integrative and inclusive educational systems. I am interested in how countries promote inclusive education through differentiated and personalized learning by incentivizing inclusive practices in line with international declarations regarding inclusive education. I am also interested in how countries can dis-incentivize exclusive education. As part of this research line, we are also examining intended budgetary allocations vis-à-vis what is actually accessible on the schools, classroom and individual pupil. As a behavior analyst, I am also specifically interested in the behavioral personalization of the general and special educational systems.