Developing cognitive complexity and value pluralism within prevention curricula:

An empirical assessment of the Living Well with Difference course for secondary schools in England


  • Alexander Ward British Red Cross
  • Sara Savage, Dr. Cambridge University
  • Elle Gordon British Red Cross
  • Emily Oliver British Red Cross
  • Lucy Tutton British Red Cross



Purpose: To promote gains in cognitive complexity (measured by integrative complexity, IC) associated with recognition of validity in others’ viewpoints/values, supporting peaceful conflict reduction.

Design: Assessment of effectiveness of Living Well with Difference (LWWD) course designed to promote critical thinking about contested social issues. LWWD was delivered to 199 secondary school students in England, comprising eight hours of sessions in curriculum time.

Findings: Results using Paragraph Completion Tests showed that IC increased in the intervention condition in comparison to the smaller control condition IC gains. Resilience scores did not show significant gain, although it correlated moderately with IC gain.

Research Limitations: Unequal numbers of control: intervention groups, non-random school sample, and a moderate amount of missing data are potential limitations.

Practical Implications: The discussion explores the possible contribution that LWWD can make to citizenship education and ‘deep’ critical thinking that engages with emo-tions and values, complementing prevention curricula in the light of EU recommendations.

Author Biographies

Alexander Ward, British Red Cross

Alexander Ward, British Red Cross, 44 Moorfields, London, EC2Y 9AL

Sara Savage, Dr., Cambridge University

Dr Sara Savage, Dept of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EB

Elle Gordon, British Red Cross

Elle Gordon, British Red Cross, 44 Moorfields, London EC2Y 9AL

Emily Oliver, British Red Cross

Emily Oliver, British Red Cross, 44 Moorfields, London EC2Y 9AL. 

Lucy Tutton, British Red Cross

Lucy Tutton, British Red Cross, 44 Moorfields, London EC2Y 9AL. 


  • Abstract
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