What is Karakter?
Karakter was a developmental research study focused on examining how everyday emotional experiences are related to positive personal growth in Syrian-origin young adults who have recently resettled in the Netherlands.
Why is this project important?
Around the world, the number of people who seek or have refugee status is increasing. There are at least 200,000 people in the Netherlands with refugee status, many of whom are young adults of Syrian origin. Young adults who seek or have refugee status are likely to come from places where they have been exposed to major life-changing hardship, affecting their mental health and well-being.
The difficult times that young adults who seek or have refugee status often face can bring about many challenges. However, they may also lead these young adults to experience personal growth, in the form of character development. Until now, there is very little research about how this happens.
There are social and financial complications of integrating people who have resettled in the Netherlands into their new communities, making it important to better our understanding of adaptation and growth in people who have been exposed to trauma and chronic stress.
The results of this study can provide knowledge on how to further the prosperity of young adults who have resettled in the Netherlands as they continue to grow and build communities.
Study funding, methodology, and timeline:
We were funded by The John Templeton Foundation to conduct 4 data collection sessions over 13 months.
We recruited 168 young adults who identified as Syrian origin, were between the ages of 18 and 35, and who had been in the Netherlands for at least 6 months, but for less than 5 years when they first participated. Data collection began in February 2019 and ended in July 2020.
We used different methodologies to conduct our study. This was needed to gain a comprehensive understanding of emotions and personal growth in young adults of Syrian origin resettling in the Netherlands.
Timeline of research activity
Our participants had the opportunity to complete 1 session every 4 months over 13 months. The first 3 sessions were conducted face-to-face with a researcher, and the 4th session was completed online.
Additionally, for the first 3 sessions and immediately following the survey, participants completed a week-long series of brief questionnaires about their everyday experiences on a smartphone. Participants could also provide optional brief acoustic recordings of participants' environments on a smartphone over the course of 2 days.
Participants were provided with:
What did participants receive in return for their time and effort?
Participants chose how they were compensated for their time and effort. They chose among the following options:
Additionally, participants had the option to participate in the following activities:
What if participants did not want to participate anymore during data collection?
If during the study participants were unable to or did not wish to continue participating in Karakter, they had the right to stop at any time, without any consequences.
How is participant data being used?
Participant data has been anonymized. Results from our studies are being published on the blog and in scientific outlets, but personally identifying information is not being shared. This means that information that might allow people to trace participants' answers back to them are not being published (e.g., names and addresses).
During data collection, the researchers had access to personal data to keep in touch with participants throughout the study, and supervising institutions had access to their personal data to ensure that the study was being conducted properly. We did not share personal data with third parties. Now that data collection has concluded, personal data has been destroyed.