Psychology of peace and conflict resolution

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CR 518, 4 credits                                                                   Mondays, 5:30 PM- 9:00 PM

Winter Term, 2010                                                              



Professor: Dr. Barbara Tint


Office Hours: By appointment                                           Phone: (503) 725-3505                     

Office: 235 Neuberger Hall, PSU                                      email:




Required Texts:

Christie, D. et al. Peace, Conflict and Violence:         


Course Packet                                                                      Smart Copy


Selected Additional Readings



Course Description:

The field of conflict resolution is one that draws from a variety of interdisciplinary arenas and perspectives.  A great deal of the foundational thinking and practices within the sphere of conflict resolution roots in psychology, particularly, social psychology.  This class will explore a historically grounded, contextualized perspective on the psychological dimensions of intra-personal, interpersonal, intra-group and inter-group conflict. It is intended to provide an overview of issues related to human aggression, conflict, violence and peace based on the premise that an understanding of these issues can contribute to a greater ability to reduce conflict and build peace between individuals, groups and societies.  In this capacity, we will examine a variety of psychological concepts and how they relate to both the theory and practice of conflict resolution. 



Classroom Methodology

This course will use a multi-modal methodology that includes lectures, multimedia presentations, small group discussions, large group dialogue, role plays followed by group reflection, group presentations, case study analysis and reflection on critical issues related to peace, conflict and violence.  As conflict resolution work itself requires flexibility and attention to process dynamics, the class will model the ability to do just this as the need arises.  In this regard, students are encouraged to be active participants in the evolution of the class.  The goal for this class is to be informative, challenging, stimulating and fun.



Intended Learning Outcomes:


Capacities to Be Developed:  This class is intended to increase students’ capacities in both knowledge and skills related to conflict resolution.  As a learning community we will be attempting to practice and model the concepts that we are studying.  Some of the capacities that will enhance this learning experience include:


  • Capacity to integrate personal experiences and values with the theories and concepts discussed

  • Capacity for reflective learning and engagement

  • Capacity for openness and respect towards diverse cultures, opinions and orientations

  • Capacity for making theoretical and practical connections across disciplines 

  • Capacity for identifying and challenging hidden assumptions

  • Capacity for empathy, caring and compassion related to local as well as global issues




Learning Objectives: In addition to the capacities listed above, there are certain objectives built into this class.  These include:


  • To increase understanding of the psychological causes and consequences of conflict at levels ranging from the interpersonal to the international.


  • To increase understanding of the psychological and symmetrical connections between conflict and peace.


  • To increase understanding of differing dimensions of violence and peace within individual and structural domains.


  • To strengthen skills in applying psychological principles and tools to the prevention of destructive conflict and the construction of peace in diverse contexts.


  • To stimulate critical reflection on the values implicit in psychological approaches to conflict, violence and peace.


  • To strengthen skills of collaborative problem solving and communication regarding practical problems of peacebuilding.


  • To learn the processes of and engage in constructive dialogue on the implications of the psychology of conflict, violence and peace.


  • To stimulate deep reflection on the link between one’s own development, personality and behavior and the construction of peace at multiple levels.


  • To make strong links between theory and practice in the understanding of the psychology of conflict resolution.



Class Expectations:


This class is designed to be highly interactive, so that class attendance and participation will be an integral component of your grade.  If you are late or absent, the whole class is impacted.  Full and timely attendance is expected and unexcused absences will count against your grade.  Weekly reading must be completed in order to fully participate in class discussions.  Evaluation will be based on the degree and quality of class participation and the successful completion of class assignments.  Incompletes are not an option except in cases of extenuating circumstances.  Incompletes must be negotiated with the professor and a deadline set for completion of all work.





1)    As part of your class experience, you will be participating in a group project.  This project will be on the subject of one of the four sections in your textbook, Peace, Conflict and Violence.  As a group, you will be expected to work together to study the topic and prepare both a class presentation and a written paper.  You are to meet as a group a minimum of three times outside of class.  The class presentation can be in whatever form you collectively choose (i.e. direct presentation, discussion, role play, combination of above) as long as it successfully communicates the essence and important components of the topic you are presenting. One grade will be given to all members of the group. 


2)    During the term, there will be a mid-term paper (4-5 pages) addressing the reading and the concepts covered in class.  You may choose topics based on the content that has been covered in class up until that point.  You are expected to offer your evaluative comments on these topics and reference relevant reading. Papers are to be in APA format and will be evaluated both for content and quality of writing.


3)    Your final paper will be a reflection paper exploring the concepts covered in class and your increased awareness of these concepts as they relate to your personal experiences and your role as a conflict resolver. How will knowing more about these issues impact your own life and your professional work? Be specific and use illustrating examples. Reference relevant reading as well in this paper. Papers will be due by March 10 at 4 PM.





As this class is designed to emphasize both process and content, evaluation will be based on a combination of factors related to your participation.  Your grade will be assessed as follows:


Attendance and Participation:                    30%

Mid-term Paper:                                           20%

Group Project:                                              30%

Final Paper:                                                   20%




Any written assignment that has been plagiarized will automatically receive a grade of “F” and could result in an “F” in the class as well. Don’t do it.




Course Outline:


Week 1           January 4                   Introductions, Class Overview, History of Peace Psych


Week 2           January 11                 Human Nature and Human Needs


Week 3           January 18                 MLK HOLIDAY – NO CLASS


Week 4           January 25                 Emotions in Conflict


Week 5           February 1                Individual and Group Identity - Mid-term Paper Due


Week 6           February 8                Enmification


Week 7           February 15              Cooperation and Competition     


Week 8           February 22              Intra-group and Inter-group Conflict                                                                                         

Week 9           March 1                      Direct Violence and Peacemaking                        

                                                            Group Presentations


Week 10         March 8                     Structural Violence and Peacebuilding,

                                                            Group Presentations
























WEEK ONE – Background, History of Peace Psychology


Langholtz, H. (1998).  The Evolving Psychology of Peacekeeping. In H. Langholtz (Ed.), The Psychology of Peacekeeping (pp. 4-15).  Westport, CT: Praeger.


Woodhouse, T. (1998).  Peacekeeping and the Psychology of Conflict Resolution. In H. Langholtz (Ed.), The Psychology of Peacekeeping (pp. 153-166).  Westport, CT: Praeger.


Textbook:      Christie, D. et al (2000) Introduction to Peace Psychology.  In D. Christie, et al, Peace, Conflict and Violence: Peace Psychology for the 21st Century. (pp.1-14). New Jersey, Prentice Hall.


Christie, D., Tint, B., Wagner, D. and Winter, D. (2008). Peace Psychology for a Peaceful World. American Psychologist, 63(6), 540-552.

McNair, R. (2004).  The Interweaving Threads of Peace Psychology.  Retrieved at




WEEK 2- Human Nature and Human Needs


Berkowitz, L. (1990).  Biological Roots: Are Humans Inherently Violent?  In B. Glad (Ed.), Psychological Dimensions of War (pp. 24-40). Newbury Park: Sage Publications.


Adams, D. (1986) The Seville Statement on Violence, retrieved at


Sponsel, L. (1996).  The Natural History of Peace: The Positive View of Human Nature and Its Potential.  In T. Gregor (Ed.), A Natural History of Peace (pp.95-125).  Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.


Burrows, R. (1996) The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense.  (pp. 49-62). NY: State University of New York Press.


Burton, J. (1990).  Human Needs Theory. In Conflict: Resolution and Prevention. New York: St. Martin's Press.


Staub, E. (2003) Basic Human Needs and Their Role in Altruism and Aggression. In


Rubenstein, R.E. (2001).  Basic Human Needs:  The Next Steps in Theory Development, The International Journal of Peace Studies, Vol. 6, No.1,  vv









WEEK 4 – Emotions and Conflict


Opotow, S. (2000). Aggression and Violence. In M. Deutsch & P. Coleman (Eds.), The Handbook of Conflict Resolution (pp. 403-427). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Allred, K. (2000).  Anger and Retaliation in Conflict. In M. Deutsch & P. Coleman (Eds.), The Handbook of Conflict Resolution (pp. 236-255). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Retzinger, S. and Scheff, T. (2000).  Emotion, Alienation and Narratives: Resolving Intractable Conflict.  Mediation Quarterly, 181, 71-85.


Fisher-Yoshida, B. (1999). To Emote or Not to Emote: A Relationship Between Emotions, Culture and Conflict.  The SIETAR International Journal, 1 2, 43-54.




WEEK 5 – Individual and Group Identity


Brown, R. (2000).  Social Identity and Intergroup Relations.  In Group Processes (pp. 311-360).  Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.


Volkan, V. (1997). We-Ness: Identifications and Shared Reservoirs.  In V. Volkan, Bloodlines: From Ethnic Pride to Ethnic Terrorism (pp.81-100). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


Moses, R. (1990). Self, Self-View and Identity. In  V. Volkan, D. Julius & J. Montville (Eds.), The Psychodynamics of International Relationships Vol. 1 (pp.47-55). Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.


Frable, D. (1997).  Gender, Racial, Ethnic, Sexual and Class Identities. Annual Review of Psychology, 48,  (139-62).


McCauley, C.  (2002). The Psychology of Group Identification and the Power of Ethnic Nationalism. In D. Chirot & M. Seligman (Eds.), Ethnopolitical Warfar: Causes, Consequences and Possible Solutions  (pp,343-362). APA: Washington, D.C.




WEEK 6 - Enmification


Barash, D. (1991).  Psychology. In Beloved Enemies (pp. 87-127). New York: Prometheus Books.


Volkan, V. (1988). Precursors of the Concept of Enemies and Allies. In The Need to Have Enemies and Allies, (pp.17-34).  USA: Jason Aronson, Inc.


Volkan, V. (1997). Enemy Images: Minor Differences and Dehumanization. In V Volkan, Bloodlines: From Ethnic Pride to Ethnic Terrorism (pp.101-115). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


Moses, R. (1990).  On Dehumanizing the Enemy. In  V. Volkan, D. Julius & J. Montville (Eds.), The Psychodynamics of International Relationships Vol. 1 (pp.111-117). Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.


Gross Stein, J. (1996). Image, Identity and Conflict Resolution.  In Chester Crocker (Ed.), Managing Global Chaos. Washington: D. C: United States Institute of Peace Press.




WEEK 7  - Cooperation and Competition


Axelrod, R. (1984).  Building Cooperation. In  The Evolution of Cooperation (pp. 21-25). Basic Books, Inc.


Brewer, M. & Miller, N. (1996). Intergroup Contact, Cooperation, and Competition: Does Togetherness Make Friends? In Intergroup Relations (pp. 107-133). Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole Publishing. 


Deutsch, M.(1991). Subjective Features of Conflict Resolution: Psychological, Social and Cultural Influences. In New Directions in Conflict Theory: Conflict Resolution and Conflict Transformation (pp. 26-56). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.


Deutsch, M. (2000). Cooperation and Competition. In M. Deutsch & P. Coleman (Eds.), The Handbook of Conflict Resolution (pp. 21-40). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Allen, W. & Chagnon, N. (2004).  The Tragedy of the Commons Revisited: The Role of Kinship and Coresidence in the Establishment and Maintenance of Corporate In-Group Boundaries in Commons Dilemmas. InY.T. Lee, et al (Eds.)  The Psychology of Ethnic and Cultural Conflict (pp. 23-47). Praeger Publishers: Westport, CT.




WEEK 8 – Intergroup Conflict


Brewer, M. (2001). Ingroup Identification and Intergroup Conflict.  In R. Ashmore, L. Jussim & D. Wilder (Eds.), Social Identity, Intergroup Conflict, and Conflict Resolution. (pp. 17-41). Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Hewston, M. and Cairns, E. (2002). Social Psychology and Intergoup Conflict.  In D. Chirot & M. Seligman (Eds.), Ethnopolitical Warfar: Causes, Consequences and Possible Solutions  (pp. 319 - 342).  APA: Washington, D.C.


Staub, E. (1996). The Psychological and Cultural Roots of Group Violence and the Creation of Caring Societies and Peaceful Group Relations. In T. Gregor (Ed.), A Natural History of Peace (pp.129-155). Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.


Bramel, D. (2004). The Strange Career of the Contact Hypothesis. In Y.T. Lee, et al (Eds.)  The Psychology of Ethnic and Cultural Conflict. (pp. 49-67). Praeger Publishers: Westport, CT.


Kelman, H. (2004).  The Nature of International Conflict: A Social-Psychological Perspective. In H. Langholtz & C. Stout (Eds.), The Psychology of Diplomacy (pp.59-77). Praeger Publishers: Westport: CT.




Sections I & III in Peace, Conflict and Violence




Sections II & IV in Peace, Conflict and Violence



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