Peace Psychology – Conflict, Violence, and Peace

Peace Psychology – Conflict, Violence, and Peace

When we discuss war, violence or conflicts, have you ever wondered that psychology could play a role in these aspects? If not, then this article is for you, and if yes, then the article will take you to a journal exploring the area of peace psychology. Peace psychology is an area of specialization that studies and develops methods to promote peace in order to prevent destructive conflicts and violence. It also aims to reduce the effects they have on society. The core idea among peace psychologists is that conflicts and wars are built and not born. Let’s see what peace psychology has to offer us –

Types of Peace

John Galtung, the father of peace studies, distinguishes between the following peace:

  • Negative Peace: A mere absence of violence is how we recognize it. Thus, the elimination of overt forms of violence is a negative peace, and the absence of fear of violence is a negative peace. It might appear simple as peace has always been linked to the absence of wars however it’s much deeper.
  • Positive Peace: It creates social harmony by meeting all people’s basic needs and rights rather than a mere absence of violence. It is based on the attitudes, structures and institutes that focus on long-lasting peace. Thus, bringing in the concept of social justice.
Conflict and Violence

Peace psychology helps us distinguish between conflict and violence. Conflicts result from struggles due to opposite needs, wishes, and drives, while violence is an action conducted intentionally to harm others. Thus, conflict and violence are treated separately in peace psychology. Conflict is manifested in a pattern, so peace can also be. Many studies show that the root cause of conflict and war is misleading communication among leaders and other prominent individuals. Therefore, disputes can be resolved through power balance and mutual adjustment. What people want, what they can get and what they are willing to pursue make us negotiate conflicting situations. Conflicts do not always end up with violent action; it can also create opportunities for building relationships. Peace psychology stimulates non-violent management of conflict, prevention, and mitigation of the effect of violence, and advocates peacemaking and peacebuilding.

The Triangle of Violence

It recognizes the three major types of violence highlighted by John Galtung, known as the triangle of violence

  1. Direct violence: it is physical harm that one experiences or can see. It can include killing someone or physical assault. It’s violence that is visible in nature. For example, domestic violence is a form of direct violence.
  2. Structural violence: It is built on a social system. Each society has its roots in various systems which form a complex relation of power. Thus, when violence becomes a part of law and order, making it a part of life. For instance, discrimination or migration.
  3. Cultural violence: When people accept and justify violence as a part of their culture. Cultural violence can explain direct and structural violence, making it normal. It includes beliefs and attitudes prevailing as stereotypes and prejudices in society. Cultural violence sometimes explains direct and structural violence, making it normal.

Structural and cultural violence gradually stripped people of their basic needs of human rights. The dominant class often supports it. Every society has some degree of structural and cultural violence. Thus, peace psychology reduces it with a more equitable social order meeting fundamental human rights. Peace psychology analyzes a violent episode pattern based on a group or individual’s feelings, thoughts and actions, thus ultimately preventing and reducing the episode’s effect. A study of mental processes and behavior leading to violence, thus facilitating non-violence. The purpose is to make the occurrence of violence a less likely event. Thus, helping to heal its psychological effects. For social harmony, peace is the foundation.

Peacemaking, Peacebuilding, and Peacekeeping

The concept of conflict and violence makes us think – Is it possible to cultivate peace with conflicts all around? What does it mean to you? How do you see it in your life? Peace of mind is often linked to yogis or monks. However, that is one way of attaining peace, but peace can also be enjoyed in daily life. Build on the four interconnected pillars research, education, practice and advocacy. Peace formation has different dimensions as follows:

  • Peacemaking: it is forming peace from a state of war through intentional action by the people and parties involved. It is a process and not an overnight change. Thus, true peace cannot be imposed but has to be born within and between communities. It can be done by agreeing on ethical decisions made through continuous meetings and dialogues.
  • Peacebuilding: it seeks to address the underlying cause of conflict using non-violent ways to resolve the injustice. It helps resolve differences between people peacefully and lays stones to prevent future violence. Keep an eye on the factors that contribute to peace; their absence can result in conflicts.
  • Peacekeeping: While peacemaking is building the process of attaining it, peacekeeping focuses on maintaining it. Thus, Peace involves continuous efforts to be crafted.

The concepts of peacemaking, peacebuilding and peacekeeping focus on positive peace. Thus, peace psychology aims to use methods, research, and knowledge of psychology to foster non-violent resolution of conflict and tension and prevention of war. Therefore, building a culture of peace and global community.

Challenges for Peace Psychology
  • It is often viewed as a soft and naive idea, especially concerning war and terrorism.
  • When things go against culture, there is massive resistance to understanding the concepts.
  • As a specialization, it has a significant reliance on qualitative methodology.
  • Many people mistake peace psychology as a study of nuclear issues as it emerged at the end of the cold war.
Scope of peace psychology

Seeing an enormous increase in threats to human security in the 21st Century is disheartening. In recent events of the Russia-Ukraine war or the Taliban capturing Afghanistan, similar events have happened in India in the form of riots. These results in complex problems of massive destruction, ideological struggles, and scarcity of resources with psychological dimensions. It might seem that peace is unavailable or sold out as we are looking out for it. However, peace doesn’t come with the absence of problems, but by learning and developing how to work for them. Peace requires constant efforts; it’s not a one-time deal. Thus, the theories and knowledge of peace psychology can help make, build, and keep up with peace. Also, weakening the psychological impact of conflict and war caused on human beings.

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