Neuroscience and Peacebuilding


“What can neuroscience contribute to peacebuilding?” NeuroPeace asks and aims to find answers to this question in their collective research on Neuroscience and Peacebuilding.  The inaugural volume is a three-part series, the first of which focuses on Individual Aggression (NeuroPeace no. 1), the second of which focuses on Group Dynamics (NeuroPeace no. 2), and the third will be focusing on Trauma (NeuroPeace no. 3) (pending release in May 2021).

Peacebuilding across nations endures many challenges in the face of different cultures, beliefs, traditions, and experiences.  This series delves into the individual psyche to determine,

“not only what drives individuals and societies to use violence to resolve their disputes but also what encourages people to turn from war making to peacemaking—what leads them to embrace negotiation, mediation, reconciliation, and the other components of peace processes.”

Part one in this series presents a hopeful view on extremists, noting that beliefs and behavior can be changed, even if clouded by a past of violence.  It attempts to help us understand the thought processes of terrorists, and gain a deeper empathy for the individual.

Part two explores how group dynamics and rituals “alleviat[e] or exacerbat[e] intergroup bias and us-vs.-them thinking” and suggest interventions that promote peacebuilding.

Part three will explore how traumatic experiences affect the brain and ways to prevent and counter the effects of trauma, along with presenting further details on how neuroscience research can be used to promote and support the efforts of peacebuilding.

View the Neuroscience and Peacebuilding series in the HSDL, or search for more articles on peacebuilding.

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Author: Erin Dauphinais-Soos

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