The ERASMUS Programme as Tolerance Promoter (case of Switzerland)

Final project for course "Introduction to Quantitative Analysis"

Project Report 2009 8 Pages

Sociology - Methodology and Methods


The ERASMUS Programme as Tolerance
Promoter (case of Switzerland)


In my final paper I will analyze data set that I have collected in Switzerland for purpose of my Master thesis “The ERASMUS Programme as Promoter of Tolerance comparing Latvia to France, Switzerland and Hungary”. I will use only data set of Switzerland (105 respondents) and then after feedback I will use the technique on data set collected in Latvia and France, as well data set that I will collect in Hungary.


Timo Makkonen defines social distance as a lack of social interaction with group members who have negative or prejudiced attitudes. He concludes that negative feelings lead to social distance, which consequently creates stereotypes. Thus, he stresses that positive experience reduces inter-group social distance, which, in turn, breaks negative stereotypes and negative feelings, which evolves into positive feelings. The most effective way for this exchange will take place between people of similar status (Makkonen in Scheinin & Toivanen, 2004: 161, 163-164).

Oakes, Haslam and Turner found that stereotypes are not fixed but may vary. These authors conclude that we try to believe that the group, to which we belong, is better than the group to which we do not (1994, 211-212). Makkonen defined prejudices as unreasonably formed opinions and feelings caused by lack of knowledge, so in order to combat prejudices; it has to contend with the social distance, stereotypes and negative feelings (Makkonen, 2006: 8-9). He also offers the following relationships between stereotypes and prejudices (see 1st Figure “Interaction between Social Distance, Negative Stereotypes, Prejudices and Negative Feelings”).

1st Figure

Interaction between Social Distance,
Negative Stereotypes, Prejudices and
Negative Feelings

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Makkonen in Scheinin & Toivanen (2004:161-163)

Gordon Allport has put forward intergroup contact hypothesis: the contact with representatives of other groups may reduce the prejudices against this group. (Allport in Pettigrew & Tropp, 2000). Pettigrew also says that friendship has a very positive impact on the bias (1998, 65-85).

Data set

The survey was aimed to clarify the impact of the ERASMUS Programme on promoting tolerance among students in Switzerland. Data set is the result of students responses of Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule Zurich who have participated in the ERASMUS Programme in academic years 2006/2007, 2007/2008 and 2008/2009. Number of respondents was representative because of the general group of ETH (3731 ) there were surveyed almost one third of the students. Most of the interviewed students were aged 19 to 24 years (75%). Rest 25% were respondents aged 25. 64% of respondents were men, 36% - women.

Design of questionnaire and variables

When creating a questionnaire, firstly, there should be one or more determined hypotheses, which must be proved; secondly, identified key concepts and the independent and dependent variables and possible causality between variables (Buckingham & Sanders, 2004: 59­68). Questionnaire (see Annex 1 "Questionnaire") was designed to perform two tasks: firstly, to examine the relationship between multicultural experience and tolerance; secondly, to define the role of the ERASMUS programme in the promotion of tolerance. Questionnaire was drafted basing on the following variables: social distance as the independent variable (the desire to communicate with people of other nationalities, “unwelcome neighbours”2 ), inter­trust as an independent variable (ties of friendship) and stereotypes as the dependent variable (gained/get rid off). Causality among these three variables is multiple (see 2nd Figure “Multiple Causality between Social distance, Inter - trust and Stereotypes”).

2nd Figure

Multiple Causality between Social distance, Inter - trust and Stereotypes

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Both the X and Z have its own influencing factors (xi ... xk; zi ... zk). This three-variable analysis should be carried out in cross table analysis using correlation or comparison approach (Pennnings, Keman & Kleinnijenhuis, 2005). “Social distance” (X) and “inter-trust” (Z) are independent variables, but “stereotypes” (Y) is dependent variable.

Together there were 8 variables.

Friends (friends) - Have you got friends while studying in ERASMUS exchange programme? (Yes, No, I don’t know, Missing values)

Friends (friends) - if respondent got friends who were they - more ERASMUS students or more nonERASMUS students (Yes, No, I don’t know, Missing values)

Desire to communicate (desircom) - if respondent have felt a desire to communicate with the representatives of other nationalities? (Y es, No, I don’t know, Missing values)

Social distance (socdist) - if respondent have felt a social distance with local inhabitants? (Y es, No, I don’t know, Missing values)

“Unwelcome neighbour” (unwelc) - have you felt that you are unwelcome in ERASMUS country? (Yes, No, I don’t know, Missing values)


1 Statistical data provided by Student Exchange Coordinator of ETH Barbara Schori.

2 The question of “undesirable neighbours” measures tolerance against people to which society has prejudices (both proved and unproved). As a research tool it is used to compare tolerance to people with different habits, life style, religion, race etc.


ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
501 KB
Catalog Number
Institution / College
Central European University Budapest
Quantitative analysis variables hypotheses data set normally distributed data homogeneity of variance interval data Pearson correlation coefficient causality



Title: The ERASMUS Programme as Tolerance Promoter (case of Switzerland)