Psychology and Peace

Much has been written regarding the political, economic, and security challenges faced by contemporary peacebuilding efforts at the local, national, and international levels. Far less attention, however, has been paid to the underlying psychological and cognitive drivers of conflict and violence; left unaddressed, these factors can result in the continued failure of peacebuilding operations, regardless of the time, resources, and, all too often, lives spent in pursuit of a seemingly illusory end-state. The goal of this section is to provide visitors with a foundational understanding of the intersection between peace and psychology, where the careful deployment of narratives and storytelling can have a far more profound impact on the successful outcome of peacebuilding as the political or socioeconomic reforms favoured by dominant actors. 
Mathias Katsuya, Visualising Peace student

Mathias is an undergraduate student in the University’s School of International Relations, and has been a member of the Visualising Peace team since Spring 2022.  

His research in the Visualising Peace project has been into psychology and peacebuilding, particularly in post-conflict zones. In this presentation, Mathias reflects on his research into psychology theory, international relations, and storytelling in peacebuilding. He translated this research into entries in our Museum of Peace about the intersection of psychology, radicalisation, and peacebuilding in Pakistan, on behavioural psychology, storytelling, and post-conflict recovery in Rwanda, and on the employment of psychological operations to encourage young combatants to defect from the LRA

Through a series of museum entries on moral injury, Mathias researched the power of storysharing (not just storytelling) for recovery, forgiveness and rehumanisations: 

Mathias has also written on the ‘biology’ of peace-building in this museum entry; and he has reflected critically on his experiences in the project and how they have stretched his own habits of visualising peace politically, psychologically, and personally. This research into psychology, storytelling, and political peacebuilding culminated in an in-depth report (below) on current frameworks of peacebuilding and behavioural psychology using a variety of case studies on the local, national, and international scales.

Alongside Mathias, student Harris Siderfin has drawn on psychology to explore the use of Intergroup Contact Theory in peacebuilding.

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