In or out

Goals of the exercise: A discussion about affiliation and exclusion; to experience consequences of exclusion; to recognize one’s behavior in situations when they’re excluded; to experience how belonging to an exclusionary group brings positive emotions; to recognize that being the excluded minority hurts much more than the majority thinks
Age of the participants: 13+
Number of participants: 12+
Duration of the exercise: 45 minutes
Materials: none

Step by step

  1. Two or three participants leave the room. It is important that the participants do it voluntarily. Two other participants carefully observe the game and take notice of everyone’s actions. All other participants form groups of 3 – 5 people. They are asked to find and make an interesting and controversial common discussion.
  2. The task of the groups is to either exclude, accept or ignore the participants who are waiting outside, once they return. The three participants are instructed to return to the room and try to join a group.
  3. The groups should be far enough from each other in order to be clearly distinguishable. The exclusionary groups may get additional tips on possible behavior:
  • be chilly and repellent,
  • stop talking when the new ones approach,
  • break apart and gather elsewhere when approached by the newcomer,
  • arrange a code (for example a cough, a head shake when saying “we”, a certain laugh), to show that the new person is not privy to the discussion.
  • Replace keywords with other terms (e.g. “read a book” for “smoking”, “book” for “cigarette”, etc.).
  • The game takes about 10 minutes. The “excluded ones” can decide how to enter the room – alone (one by one or simultaneously) or together as a group.


In the following evaluation the “excluded ones” should be interviewed first:

  • What is it like to join a group and not be included?
  • What is it like to become part of the group?
  • What strategies did you try? How did the groups react?

Then the exclusionary groups should be asked:

  • What is it like to be part of a group that excludes?
  • How easy or difficult it was to reject others?

Then the observers are asked:

  • What have you observed?
  • What is it like standing outside?

And some questions for all:

  • Do you know such situations from everyday life? From what context?
  • Can these experiences be transferred to real life? (Codes: branded clothing, specific language, welcome rituals, smartphones, etc.)

Authorship/adaptation or source:

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