In an article published in the latest issue of the American Psychological Association’s American Psychologist, University of Massachusetts-Amherst political psychologists Bernhard Leidner, Linda Tropp and Brian Lickel write that while their science has made considerable progress in understanding the nature of war and violence, it can also flip the script, so to speak. Tropp says, “We oppose the view that war is inevitable and argue that understanding the psychological roots of conflict can increase the likelihood of avoiding violence as a way to resolve conflicts with others.”
What’s the Big Idea?
The article is part of a special issue on a less-examined area of study known as peace psychology. In it, the Amherst team acknowledges that violence does serve to address certain psychological needs such as identity and power, but they stress the need to examine nonviolence more carefully, including in that study factors that encourage understanding and empathy. In their conclusion, they write, “It is our contention that psychology can and should be applied to promote peace, not war.”