Written by: Anna Wohlrab and Gioel Gioacchino; Edited By: Mattieu Ramsawak

Fear is a primal emotion. We all experience it. This exercise asks participants to identify, share and act out their fears. The activity looks at how young  people engage with their community, build empathy, and welcome fears.

Our experience using this technique:

Anna used this technique for conflict resolution facilitations with at-risk youth, while working with Global Majority at Rancho Cielo, Salinas, California. Through this exercise she realized that young people can have very particular fears because their experience is rooted in a very specific context. The exercise also pointed out the universality of fears. This helped to build empathy and spark new conversations within the group.

Research and Development:

What are we trying to understand about the community?
Why is it important for the community’s development?
At what stage(s) of the research cycle is this method used?


What do I need?
How long does it take?

Benefits and Challenges

What are the benefits of using this technique?
What are the challenges of using this technique?



How to adapt the technique
Tips and Traps

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1 Comment
  1. Liv

    Hey! Thank you for this “fear in a balloon” instruction. I wonder whether this practice may be a tool to challenge a crucial machanism that underlies many conflicts. That we externalize OUR fears and other ‘negative’ emotions by projecting them on others and in consequence try to solve the tension by fighting the threat that others appear to be for us. I am currently writing an essay wherein I discuss whether the denial of “our shadows” (that are fears, anger, whatever we perceive as weaknesses etc.) makes us more receptive to propaganda which uses images of the “evil other” to foster or justify certain policies. I am just starting to explore the topic, so any reading suggestions and thoughts are very welcome! In the next theater workshop exploring negative emotions I will try out the balloon exercise. Thanks for sharing!

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