Peace psychology is broad discipline as conflict and the need for peace occurs in all human arenas. Peace psychology research has been conducted in a variety of contexts examining such disparate concerns as domestic violence; school shootings; structural forms of violence (e.g., institutionalized forms of bias and the systematic violation of human rights); and mass violence, including ethno political conflict, genocide, terrorism, and war. Peace psychologists have also worked to develop and assess programs aimed at teaching concepts and strategies of peace, effective conflict resolution skills, as well as reconciliation and reconstruction following conflict. Such programs have been implemented around the globe with such disparate populations as young school age children in the United States to survivors of the Rwandan genocide.

Peace psychology is not a stand-alone discipline. Rather it draws on research from other disciplines outside of as well as within psychology, including but not limited to clinical psychology, social psychology, political psychology, media psychology, developmental psychology, political science, history, education, sociology, international relations, and peace studies.

Peace psychology can be defined as “the study of mental processes that lead to violence, that prevent violence, and that facilitate nonviolence as well as promoting fairness, respect, and dignity for all, for the purpose of making violence a less likely occurrence and helping to heal its psychological effects” Another definition is that “peace psychology seeks to develop theories and practices aimed at the prevention and mitigation of direct and structural violence.   Framed positively, peace psychology promotes the nonviolent management of conflict and the pursuit of social justice, what we refer to as peacemaking and peace building, respectively” (Christie,
Wagner, & Winter, 2000). Though peace psychology has links within all branches of psychology, there are especially strong links to social psychology, political psychology, and   community psychology      and          positive psychology.        Peace psychologists have developed a number of themes over the years. The psychological causes of war
and other forms of violence is one such theme, as well as the psychological consequences. Along with these are the causes and consequences of behavior intended to counter violence  commonly referred  to as       nonviolence  or nonviolent action. Other remedies to violent behavior include peace education and conflict resolution. In early
years, focus was on international affairs. Through time those interested in peace psychology have more commonly     thought that other forms of violence are precursors to war, share with war many of the same causes and consequences, and are threats to peace even in the absence of outright war. These include domestic violence,
hate crimes, the death penalty, and abuses of medicine, and institutional arrangements which foster poverty or environmental degradation.

Meaning of peace:

Peace is a quality describing a society or a relationship that is operating harmoniously. This is commonly understood as the absence of hostility, or the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, safety in matters of social or economic welfare, the acknowledgment of equality and fairness in political relationships and, in world matters, peacetime; a state of being absent of any war or conflict. Reflection on the nature of peace is also bound up with considerations of the causes for its absence or loss. Among these potential causes are: insecurity, social injustice, economic inequality, political and religious radicalism, and acute racism and nationalism.     
Inner peace (or peace of mind) refers to a state of being mentally and spiritually at peace, with enough knowledge and understanding to keep oneself strong in the face of discord or stress. Being “at peace” is considered by many to be healthy homeostasis and the opposite of being stressed or anxious. Peace of mind is generally associated with bliss and happiness.

Pacifism is the opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes or gaining advantage. Pacifism covers a spectrum of views ranging from the belief that international disputes can and should be peacefully resolved; to calls for the abolition of the institutions of the military and war; to opposition to any organization of society through governmental force to rejection of the use of physical violence to obtain political, economic or social goals; to opposition to violence under any circumstance, including defense of self and others.

 Peace movement is a social movement that seeks to achieve ideals such as the ending of a particular war (or all wars), minimize inter-human violence in a particular place or type of situation, often linked to the goal of achieving world peace. Means to achieve these ends usually include advocacy of pacifism, non-violent resistance, diplomacy, boycotts, moral purchasing, supporting anti-war political candidates, demonstrations, and lobbying to create legislation. The leaders of any peace movement will never be forgotten, for their bravery in order to make the world better will always be a scar that can’t be removed. Take Ghandi for example (see Satyagraha), he was once one of the greatest peace movement leaders, until he sadly died from assassination on January 30, 1948.


War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespreadarmed conflict between political communities. Thus, fisticuffs between individual persons do not count as a war, nor does a gang fight, nor does a feud on the order of the Hatfields versus the McCoys. War is a phenomenon which occurs onlybetween political communities, defined as those entities which either are states or intend to become states (in order to allow for civil war).

The mere threatof war, and the presence of mutual disdain between political communities, does not suffice as indicators of war. The conflict of arms must be actual, and not merely latent, for it to count as war. Further, the actual armed conflict must be both intentionaland widespread: isolated clashes between rogue officers, or border patrols, do not count as actions of war. The onset of war requires a conscious commitment, and a significant mobilization, on the part of the belligerents in question. There’s no real war, so to speak, until the fighters intendto go to war and until they do so with a heavy quantum of force.


Peacemaking is a form of conflict resolution which focuses on establishing equal power relationships that will be robust enough to forestall future conflict, and establishing some means of agreeing on ethical decisions within a community that has previously had conflict.

Peacemaking is the process of forging a settlement between the disputing parties. While this can be done in direct negotiations with just the two disputants, it is often also done with a third-party mediator, who assists with process and communication problems, and helps the parties work effectively together to draft a workable peace accord. Usually the negotiators are official diplomats, although citizens are getting involved in the peacemaking process more and more. While they do not negotiate final accords, citizen diplomacy is becoming an increasingly common way to start the peacemaking process, which is then finalized with official diplomatic efforts.

The process of peacemaking is distinct from the rationale of pacifism or the use of non-violent protest or civil disobedience techniques, though they are often practiced by the same people. Indeed, those who master the nonviolent techniques under extreme violent pressure, and who lead others in such resistance, have demonstrated the rare capacity not to react to violent provocation in kind, and the difficult skill of keeping a group of people suffering from violent oppression, coordinated and in good order through such experience.

There are many organisations involved in peacemaking. Centre for Conflict Resolution (South Africa), Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (Switzerland), Community of Sant’Egidio (Italy), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Djibouti), International Alert (United Kingdom), Organization of African Unity  (Ethiopia), Responding to Conflict (United Kingdom), Search for Common Ground (United States), United Nations Reverend Sun Myung Moon of Universal Peace Federation, swisspeace (Switzerland).


Peace building is defined as “the process of restoring normal relations between people. It requires the reconciliation of differences, the apology and forgiveness of past harm, and the establishment of a cooperative relationship between groups, replacing the adversarial or competitive relationship that used to exist.” This definition built on several experts’ focus on the relational dimensions of peace building.

Peace building is a process of building relationships and institutions that support the peaceful transformation of conflict.


Advocating for Change: Advocates and activists seek to gain support for change by

Increasing a group’s power to address issues, and ripen the conditions needed to

Transform relationships.

Reducing Direct Violence: Intervenors seek to reduce direct violence by restraining

perpetrators of violence, relieving the immediate suffering of victims of violence, and

creating a safe space for peace building activities in other categories that address the

root causes of the violence.

Transforming Relationships: Intervenors aim to transform destructive relationships

With an array of processes that address trauma, transform conflict and restore a sense of justice. These processes give people opportunities to create long-term, sustainable

Solutions to address their needs.

Capacity Building: Longer-term peace building efforts enhance existing capacities to

meet needs and rights and prevent violence. These activities aim to build just structures

that support a sustainable culture of peace.


  1. Dialogue: Violence is attractive to many because it seems like a short-cut.  It is a translating of feelings of anger and resentment into immediate action, of taking matters into ones own hands, of demonizing the enemy who is seen as deserving whatever consequences might befall him.  It is far more difficult and requires much patience, forbearance and self-discipline to hold ones anger in check, to listen, to try to see all sides, to search for long-term solutions, rather than to give in to the impulse of the moment and engage in a violent reaction.  Our religions must teach that violence is short-sighted and, in the end, ineffective.  It only shows which party is stronger, never which is right.
  2.  Development: Peace will never be achieved so long as great masses of people   are living in misery, while others have more than they need.   Desperation drives people to destructive acts, in that they feel they have nothing to lose.  When people have hope, when they expect that the future might be better than the past, they are more ready to accept that injustice is just one part of life, not the whole of it.  The religions should focus on effective programs of sustainable development – jobs, education, housing, health – that give people reason to hope.  They must stress how war is a colossal waste of human resources.
  3. Democratization:  People on all continents want governments that express and respond to their basic needs and desires.  They want their voice heard by those who govern, and they want legal, non-violent ways to expel corrupt officials who use political power to enrich themselves and ignore the needs of the people.  We will not have peace without governments that are representative of the people and responsive to their demands. Religious groups can make a contribution to peace by favoring the process of democratization and honest government for all the worlds’ peoples.
  4. Human dignity:  Wars and violent actions affect first and foremost ordinary people who basically want to get on with their lives, raise their children, and enjoy the basic pleasures of family, home, and friendship.  Wartime propaganda focuses on Athe enemy,@ by which is meant individual leaders or ruling cliques, but the religions must continually put the emphasis where it belongs, on the innocent people who suffer most the consequences of any violent conflict.  Even religions that permit war in some circumstances stress the inviolability of civilian populations.  They must ask themselves seriously whether techniques of modern warfare that mainly affect civilians, such as aerial bombing, rockets and heat-seeking missiles, land mines and economic sanctions, can ever be justified.
  5. Justice:  Will we ever achieve peace without justice?  Is it realistic even to speak of peace without justice?  It would be like a doctor seeking to heal a patient while ignoring a festering wound.  Although perfect justice will never be achieved in this world, the religions must strive together to defend the victims of injustice and oppression and to build structures that bring greater justice to more people.  This commitment must be universal, not simply defending our own group when it is victimized, but advocating and working for justice for all.
  6.  Forgiveness: Justice is not enough to bring peace, because we all carry a burden of wrongs from the past.  So long as the wrongs and injustices suffered are remembered but not forgiven, the resentment remains and forms the basis of continuing judgments against the other and at even the slightest provocation can ignite into anger and hatred. All our religions teach us to forgive, although there is probably no human act more difficult to perform.  The followers of religion must see forgiveness, not as weakness or indifference, but as the only way to move beyond the past and constructively build a future.  The alternative, refusing to forgive, makes us prisoners of our previous history condemned to forever relive and dwell upon our grievances.
  7. Acknowledging guilt:  This is the other side of forgiveness.  The burden is not only on the wronged party, whether it be national, ethnic, or religious group.  Those of the group who did the wrongs can make the process of forgiveness less difficult by acknowledging their deeds of violence and oppression. We know from our personal experience it is never easy to be self-critical, to admit that we have harmed others, to ask forgiveness.  It is the same with nations and religious groups.  The natural tendency is to engage in self-justification, to point out how the other has been also at fault.  But if peace is ever to be achieved, our religious convictions must lead us to an honest admission of our own misdeeds.
  8. Simplicity of life:  This is an element of peace often overlooked.  Every religion studied exhorts people to a simple life-style, permitting enjoyment in moderation of the good things of creation but warning of the dangers of greed, excess, and selfishness.  We must be aware, however, that in the consumerist and materialist ideology that is dominant in the modern world, powerful economic forces and a whole advertising industry are at work to promote the idea that a person’s worth is determined by what one owns.  In today’s globalized culture, religious ideals of moderation, generosity, and solidarity have become counter-cultural.  It does not take much imagination to see how greed, competition for markets and control of resources, and aggressive economic rivalry all lead to conflict and war.  The religions must counter this tendency by reaffirming without embarrassment the important value of simplicity; the bottom line is ultimately not the bottom line.  There is more to life than pleasure and possessions.
  9. Solidarity with the human family: Our religions must insist that our deepest allegiance is to the welfare of the human family.  We must be ready to take up the just causes of peoples and nations elsewhere, to be genuinely concerned about their welfare, to defend their rights.  Indifference and rugged individualism allows suffering, victimization, and violence to occur on the world scene.  Our religious beliefs must lead us to an active solidarity with all our sisters and brothers, not just those of our group.
  10.  Education for peace:  Most of our nations have War Colleges where students can learn the art and techniques of warfare, but very few government ministries and universities have centers for the study of peace.  The study of peace seems like a soft subject lacking in scientific and academic discipline.  However, if one is not to fall into superficial generalities, it takes serious investigation and research to be able to analyze the root causes of conflict, the unique interplay of political, historical, economic, social, psychological and religious factors that underlie any given conflict or war.  Just as important as an area of study are the techniques of conflict transformation and peace-building.  Peace is not easy to build, and it does not come about without human initiative, creative thinking, and conscious effort.  Our religions can contribute to peace-building by drawing up peace curricula for our schools and by establishing centers for the study of peace.  By working together to make our religiously-based universities and schools laboratories for peace and by sharing human and financial resources for peace education, our religious groups would give a credible witness to our commitment towards world peace.


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