KFT Sign

© Jürgen Haacks / Uni Kiel



Diversity is a fact and an inherent part of life in modern society. At the same time, research on social groups shows that people who belong to different groups or social categories usually do not like one another. This can be observed on a regular basis when people with different national or ethnic backgrounds meet. The same holds true if they practice different religious beliefs or lifestyles or have different political and ideological opinions. Such kind of antipathy offers fertile ground for a wide range of social conflicts, which can range from disapproval and small-scale disputes between individuals to systematic discrimination and violent conflicts between societal groups. This potential for conflict indicates the importance of mutual tolerance, especially in modern societies.

The Tolerance Research Unit Kiel (Kieler Forschungsstelle Toleranz, KFT) is based at the Chair of Social Psychology and Political Psychology at Kiel University.  Starting from a scientifically founded conception of tolerance we investigate possible ways of fostering tolerance and its societal effectiveness. The research revolves around an understanding of tolerance as intermediate between wholehearted acceptance and unrestrained disapproval. This intermediate position means that people are not obligated to give up their disapproval of “the other” in order to be tolerant. However, tolerance requires that people restrain their disapproval by respect (meaning equality recognition) for others. Only under this condition, tolerance can become something more than mere permissive toleration that can be granted and withdrawn arbitrarily. At the same time, such an understanding of tolerance is not overburdened with excessive expectations of harmony nor with further demands for esteem or liking.

Research on the topic of tolerance constitutes the foundation and the central task (“first mission”) of the Tolerance Research Unit Kiel (KFT). Our work focuses on basic research, but applied research (such as theory-based intervention studies) also has its place in our research unit. The spectrum of our research methods comprises primarily quantitative cross-sectional and longitudinal studies in the field as well as laboratory experiments, but also encompasses qualitative methods.

Additional tasks of the Tolerance Research Unit Kiel (KFT) are the academic education and professional training of students and early career researchers with a special focus on scientific (basic and applied) issues of tolerance (“second mission”) and the transfer of pertinent scientific knowledge to the larger society (“third mission”).


Missions of the Tolerance Research Unit Kiel