| Peace Psychology
active orientation: a tendency to act on one's beliefs. Its opposite is a passive orientation.
addiction to trauma: a psychological theory which holds that for some people trauma may be addictive,
psychologically and/or biologically, causing these people to seek out trauma. This theory is currently still in the stage
of being an idea and much more research is necessary to see if it can be verified.
agent provocateur: a person who is assigned to enter an opponent's group and provoke the group to engage in
violence or make it appear to outsiders as if the group had engaged in violence. This method is often used by
dominant groups to discredit a nonviolent campaign against it.
agentic shift: the process of changing the idea of who is responsible for an action, generally from the individual to an
authority. Stanley Milgram used this as an explanation for why people were willing to engage in destructive acts on
orders from authority, in that they shifted the responsibility for the acts from themselves to the people giving the
agentic state: the state of mind which ascribes responsibility to different agents. People normally regard themselves
as responsible for their own actions. A shift to a different agentic state in which an authority is instead responsible is
a reason offered by Stanley Milgram as an explanation for destructive obedience to authority.
ahimsa: dynamic non-harm. "Himsa" is a Hindi word for harm, and "a" is its negative, but the idea of non-harm with
this word is not a passive failure to commit harm but an active effort to avoid harm. Along with satyagraha, ahimsa is
a crucial part of nonviolence in the Gandhian conception. Essentially, in English ahimsa is love while satyagraha is
the power of truth. Ahimsa is more focused on personal practices (such as vegetarianism) while satyagraha is more
focused on political strategies, with an understanding that these are intertwined and cannot in reality be separated.
Many people like the nuances of the original words and have thereby made them English words of Hindi origin.
altruism: the practice of being concerned for others rather than for one's self.
altruistic personality: a personality characterized by habitual thought and action of being helpful to others.
antisocial personality: a personality characterized by a lack of conscience. Values of society are not internalized and
no guilt or anxiety is felt in behaving criminally or violently. Also referred to as a psychopath, psychopathic
personality, or sociopath.
arms race: behavior which results when people perceive that there are at least two sides, and those on each side
perceive that the other has built more weapons and that they must at least match and preferably exceed the other
side in arms. Because people on all sides do this, the build-up of armaments increases continually, with a race that
has no good stopping place. Historically, most arms races have ended in war. Some have instead ended in
economic collapse, as the burden of continued arms building became too great. The nuclear arms race of the Cold
War was peculiar for ending in a more amicable fashion. It was also peculiar for having lengthy and widespread
practices of peace protests, which is historically unprecedented for arms races.
attribution: a process of trying to understand others by designating intentions and motivations to them.
attribution theory: the idea that when people see behavior as normal they think it is due to the situation, but when
behavior is abnormal, they see at as due to the internal character of the person of unusual behavior. Among many
applications, this has been suggested as a reason that an attacker or observer of a violent confrontation will see a
violent response as due to the situation but an unexpected nonviolent response as due to the nonviolent character
of the person doing the responding. This is one of several psychological explanations for why the nonviolent
response can be effective.
attributive projection: the assumption that one's own ideas and understandings about the world are shared by other
people. If other people state different understanding, this is attributed not to actual differing ideas but to a flaw in the
statement -- that is, the other people are being deceptive or are remarkably ignorant.
authoritarian personality: a personality characterized by a concern with obedience. Associated traits include low
tolerance for ambiguity, high prejudice, rigid adherence to conventions, superstition, servility, and contempt for
authoritarian parenting style: a manner of raising children which includes relatively rigid standards of behavior, a
strong expectation of obedience, and frequent use of punishment.
authoritative parenting style: a manner of raising children which includes reason, flexibility and dialog, yet exercising
firm authority when needed.
authority: power which is regarded as legitimate by those whose behavior is directed by it, through social position or
backlash: a strong negative reaction against a previous action or idea, the opposite of what the original action or
idea was put forward to accomplish.
battle fatigue: a historical and imprecise term which evolved into the current concept of Posttraumatic Stress
Disorder. Its use in historic documents is especially helpful in tracking down instances of PTSD, and it can still be
used in discussion with members of the general public when clarification is needed of what PTSD is. The same is
true of "combat fatigue," "shell shock" (especially for World War I) and "soldier's heart" (especially for the American
behavioral rehearsal: practicing an act or set of acts, either alone or in the presence of others. Both violent and
nonviolent confrontation can be practiced in a safe setting before the actual confrontation takes place, adding to the
effectiveness of the action. See role-playing.
biological psychology: the study of how the processes in the physical body might affect behavior or be affected by
behavior. For example there are biological components to stress and to post-trauma reactions. Sometimes called
blame the victim: a moral disengagement mechanism whereby harmful behavior is justified as being the fault of the
victim of that behavior.
blowback: a set of events in which people who were given training or weapons by one group turn around and use
these resources against the group that gave them. Derived from the Central Intelligence Agency of the United
States, a prime example is the U. S. assistance given to mujahadeen fighters of Afghanistan against the Soviet
Union who later formed the Al Qaeda network and attacked the U. S.
brainstorming: a technique of divergent thinking whereby people are given a topic and come up with various ideas
surrounding that topic without regard to the practicality or other considerations. The process of convergent thinking,
narrowing down and modifying ideas for practicality, morality, and desirability is done later. The purpose of the
brainstorming is to generate ideas which can serve as a resource, and an idea that is utterly impractical can still lead
through the creative process to an idea that is useful.
burnout: a reaction to excessive chronic stress characterized by emotional exhaustion, apathy and irritability.
catharsis: the use of symbolic or inanimate targets for displays of anger, with the idea that the anger then dissipates.
Conceived by ancient Greeks, it was re-introduced by Sigmund Freud as part of his hydraulic model of aggressive
drives. Freud believed that when anger was repressed, it built up and was then expressed in unhealthy ways or at
uncontrolled times. Actions in which anger was vented harmlessly would prevent this problem. However, there is
virtually no evidence in decades of studies on the subject to support this theory. Studies consistently show the
opposite effect -- attempts at catharsis actually increase later aggression.
changing the script: a nonviolent defense technique in which a potential victim refuses the role of victim in a
perpetrator/victim script that someone else is trying to set up. Someone who offers violence expects a response to
be either submissive or belligerent, and the failure to get such a response can be discombobulating. This technique
can also use the power of role expectation, in that the potential victim can use an alternative script for behavior with
which the potential perpetrator is familiar and may therefore be inclined to follow.
circular relationship: a situation in which the effect can also cause its cause. For example, direct violence supports
the maintenance of structural violence, and the existence of structural violence in turn underlies direct violence.
Such a feedback loop is common in psychological phenomena.
closed system: a set of circumstances in which all variables necessary to explain events are included in the
circumstances. For example, one can predict fully where planets were or will be at given times, because the
planetary system includes all the information one needs to make the prediction once that information is discovered.
This rarely if ever occurs in the social sciences. The opposite of a closed system is an open system.
cognitive consistency: a mental state in which ideas, thoughts, values, attitudes, behavior, and facts have no
contradictions. According to the theory of cognitive dissonance, human beings have a drive to achieve this. This can
be used as an aid in achieving goals of nonviolent campaigns.
cognitive dissonance: a mental state in which there is a contradiction between two cognitions; cognitions are ideas,
thoughts, values, attitudes, behaviors, or known facts. The theory of cognitive dissonance, proposed by Leon
Festinger (1957), is that people have a powerful drive for feeling a psychological consistency which is not the same
as logical consistency. If two ideas conflict or ideas conflict with behavior, this offers a tension which people are
motivated to reduce. Tension reduction strategies involve making the disagreeing elements agree somehow or at
least make them irrelevant to each other. Effort justification is one form of cognitive dissonance that applies to
continued participation in war.
cognitive restructuring: a therapeutic process in which thought processes are changed from negative to positive.
combat fatigue: see battle fatigue.
common ground: a technique of addressing a dispute by finding the points upon which the disputants agree. In
some cases, this serves to clarify what the actual disagreements are in order to avoid an "enemy camps" mentality.
In other cases, this can give people a means of setting aside disagreements for more appropriate occasions and
working with each other to achieve that upon which they agree, thereby getting valuable things done.
community-based social marketing: a strategy for impacting social behavior by using a four-step process of selecting
behaviors, designing strategies, running a pilot study, and scientific evaluation of results
community policing: a practice in which police take a problem-solving approach that involves conflict resolution and
prevention skills. It is a proactive rather than a punitive approach.
community psychology: a combination of applied clinical, social, and health psychology that tries to foster well-being
by intervening in the social environment using psychological insights.
comparison to worse conduct: a moral disengagement mechanism whereby harmful behavior is justified by
comparing it to behavior that is even worse, with the idea that the original behavior does not look so bad once the
comparison is made.
compartmentalizing: a mind's way of coping with committing violence by having the violent activities in a
"compartment" separated off from ordinary living, disconnecting the violence from the remainder of a person's
identity. An example is the Nazi doctors who would spend days selecting people for death at the concentration
camps yet could be very loving family men at home.
confidence-building measures: in diplomacy, taking small steps toward resolution of a conflict as a means of
conflict resolution: any means of causing an existing conflict to stop existing. In normal usage, it refers to methods of
dealing with conflict that do not involve violence or deception or trampling the rights and legitimate interests of any
party; a method of dealing with conflict in which underlying interests are dealt with in such a way as to leave
contenders relatively satisfied with the outcome, so that future conflict is unlikely.
connection: a technique of personal nonviolence whereby a relationship of respect is asserted by someone
threatened with violence toward the person(s) threatening the violence. The expectation of reciprocity in this attitude
of respect will often have the desired effect of diffusing the situation.
conscientization: an educational method developed by Brazilian Paul Frieri whereby structural violence is studied
and nonviolent alternatives are developed and implemented.
consistent life ethic: a philosophy that holds that all types of violence as means to solve social problems are wrong
and that all types of violence are connected to each other in causes and effects. It defines violence it opposes as
including war, death penalty, abortion, and euthanasia. Other forms of violence, such as poverty, racism, weapons
build-up, and so on, are often included. It is also more colorfully referred to as the "seamless garment," under the
idea that violence is all of one cloth not divided by seams.
contact hypothesis: a prediction that equal-status contact between members of different groups will reduce prejudice
and therefore reduce conflict.
contagion: the transmission of ideas or feelings from person to person or group to group by suggestion,
communication, imitation, or sympathy. It is especially useful in spreading nonviolent campaigns as others become
inspired by the success of nonviolent tactics. Negatively, however, it can be part of a process of war hysteria.
conventional stage of moral development: in the Kohlberg scheme, the second of three broad stages of
development characterized by reference to the social group, in which people judge the rightness or wrongness of
actions based on what other people think or what authorities dictate.
creativity of the foreclosed option: the suggestion that the removal of a certain option from consideration, usually
due to moral considerations, does not actually mean that there are fewer options but paradoxically that there are
more options available, due to the search for alternatives engendered by the unacceptability of the removed option.
crowding behavior: "Supposed response of an animal or human to the effects of being crowded, and often subject to
very dubious generalization across species. For example, the aggressive behavior of rats at a certain level of
crowding is thought by many to be instinctive and this 'explanation' may then be offered to account for violence in
urban slums. There is little hard evidence that any human behavior is instinctive, and as an explanation for the
extremely complex (and sometimes apparently contradictory) relationship between urban violence and crowding is
so simplistic as to be silly." (Statt, 1990)
dehumanization: the act of treating human beings as something inferior to humans.
deindividuation: a blurring of individual identity, feelings of anonymity and being part of a crowd. This allows for mob
behavior and groupthink situations.
de-legitimation of violence model: a proposal that people are less likely to engage in violent behavior if there has
been social disapproval of violence or positive examples of workable nonviolence, making the violence seem less
legitimate. It is complementary to the legitimation of violence model.
demonizing: the act of attributing demonic qualities to one's opposition or to other groups. Attributing evil allows
attacks against them to be regarded as heroic. Evidence that they are real human beings is discounted.
denial: a psychological defense mechanism in which threatening information is denied or ignored.
depersonalization: the act of treating persons as something inferior to persons, or of not perceiving or treating them
as persons. In some cases, this can be a prelude to violence and is indistinguishable from dehumanization. In the
case of burnout, it is a symptom that accompanies emotional exhaustion, apathy, and irritability.
desensitization: a process of becoming insensitive. Those who are insensitive to suffering are more likely to take
actions to cause it.
developmental psychology: the study of mental processes across the life-span, from infancy through childhood,
adulthood, and old age. The development, especially in children, of mental process that support or impede acts of
violence or nonviolence, nastiness or kindness, are of special interest to Peace Psychology.
diabolism: the act of attributing to a person or group the characteristics of the devil. A form of semantic
dehumanization which, by asserting others to be completely evil, allows violence against them to be perceived as
heroic. This is more often a British term; the American version is more likely to be demonization.
differentiation: the degree to which people see differences among aspects of or perspectives on a particular
problem. This is a necessary skill for maintaining peace; over-simplifying the situation is associated with periods
immediately preceding wars.
diffusion of responsibility: the understanding that taking responsibility for initiating action in an emergency is spread
among the people present in the situation, posing a danger in that no action will be taken at all. It can also apply in
diplomacy: the art and practice of conducting negotiations, normally between nations. It is a specific form of conflict
direct violence: actions which intentionally harm others. This can include shooting someone, ordering someone else
to shoot someone, or pushing a button which launches a missile that harms people hundreds of miles away. In
contrast, structural violence causes harm through social organization rather than direct action.
discrimination: the ability to perceive differences. In social contexts, the "difference" may signify something to be
feared and rejected, and in those cases, systematic discrimination against a group can easily become a form of
disruptive stress hypothesis: the proposal that high levels of stress deplete the cognitive resources necessary for
complex thinking. More simplistic thinking is associated with moves toward war.
dissociation: a psychological state in which functional associations or connections are broken. For example, a sense
that one is separate from one's own body, or not really present in the situation one is currently in. This is a common
immediate reaction to being in a trauma, including a trauma which one is creating by engaging in violent action such
as killing. It is also commonly associated with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Perpetration-Induced Traumatic
distancing: the process of creating a mental distance from an unpleasant reality. It is often employed by those who
allow or perpetrate violence.
distributive justice: a situation in which everyone receives just rewards and punishments, generally through natural
consequences to the actions, though human and divine interventions may also be believed to play a part. While this
frequently does not apply, it is an underpinning to the just-world view.
divergent thinking: a form of thinking that deviates from the obvious and the conventional and thereby produces
several possible solutions to a particular problem. It is the opposite of convergent thinking, which narrows the
possible solutions down to one or two. It is the form of thinking that occurs with brainstorming.
domestic violence: See family violence.
doubling: a from of distancing in which people create two identities for themselves, one that perpetrates violence
and the other does not.
early warning system: a program in which psychologists and experts from other fields monitor international events to
try to find events that have the potential to lead to genocidal and other major violent activity.
effort justification: a strategy for reducing cognitive dissonance whereby people avoid a conclusion that they
behaved stupidly or used poor judgement by continuing an effort in which many resources have already been
invested. As long as the effort continues, people can convince themselves they have not yet failed. This reasoning
can cause wars to continue even when there is little hope of victory, because as long as it continues there is no
admission of defeat.
egalitarian personality: a personality characterized by views and behaviors of human equality.
eidetic dreams: dreams which involve clear projected images, which seem more like videotapes of the event and do
not include much by way of the distortions in realism common to dreams. This is a common feature of post-trauma
dreams, which are a common effect of violence to both victims and perpetrators.
elicitive approach: a means of training across various cultures in which facilitators elicit knowledge, images, stories,
meanings, and other information from participants in order to build an understanding among the group. Rarely used
in its pure form, it can complement and expand the prescriptive approach.
empathy: the capacity for participating in the feelings or thinking of someone else.
ethnocentricity: the tendency to believe that the group with which one identifies, especially one's own ethnic group,
is superior to others, or that the ideas and understandings of one's own ethnic group are the basic ones to which
everyone else ought to adhere.
etiology: the cause of a specific individual disease or disorder, something which is instrumental in causing the
disease or disorder to exist. The adjective form is etiological. In the case of PTSD, the trauma upon which the
symptoms are based is regarded as the etiological trauma.
euphemism: the substitution of a pleasant or inoffensive expression for an unpleasant, offensive, or frightening one;
also refers to the expression substituted. When honest and straightforward, it is simply social courtesy, as in "going
to the restroom." When used dishonestly or as a way of diverting attention from unpleasant reality, it can divert
attention from that which should be attended to. It can facilitate violence by keeping it from sounding as bad as it
actually is. Euphemism is also one of the moral disengagement mechanisms.
explanatory style: a habitual way of explaining events. See optimism and pessimism.
expressive violence: violent behavior which expresses frustration or rage with no regard for the consequences of the
behavior. The opposite is instrumental violence, for which the consequences are desired and are the reason for the
behavior. Vandalism is usually expressive, while armed robbery is usually instrumental.
extrapunitive: the reaction of blaming and/or behaving aggressively others for things that go wrong. It is the opposite
of intropunitive, in which one characteristically blames one's self.
external locus of control: a belief that outside events are imposed and one can have little if any impact on them. The
opposite is an internal locus of control. People are theoretically less likely to take action to change circumstances if
they see those circumstances as being unchangeable, thus interfering with any kind of campaign to change
conditions. See also locus of control.
extrinsic orientation: a tendency to view something in a way that finds external benefits for one's self. When applied
to religion, it is the use of religious philosophy or groups as a means to ends that are not religious. Its opposite is
family violence: that form of violence that occurs domestically between family or quasi-family members. Primary
forms are child abuse (by neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse), spousal battering, and elder abuse (by neglect
of the dependent or physical abuse). Throughout history, this has been legal and even encouraged in some
cultures, as with war. In most modern cultures, it is illegal and therefore further methods of prevention need to be
fanaticism: excessive and irrational devotion to a belief, often paranoid and often involving a distortion of reality or
of a religious belief system, whose major feature is an utter imperviousness to counter-arguments.
feedback loop: See circular relationship.
frustration-aggression hypothesis: the proposal that frustration leads to aggression in both animals and people, and
that aggression implies some preceding frustration. First formally proposed in 1939, subsequent studies have shown
it to be very limited in explanation.
fundamental attribution error: interpreting another person's behavior as due to internal disposition rather than
external causes, but one's own behavior as due to the external circumstances.
game theory: "a mathematical approach to the study of conflict and decision-making which treats conflict situations
as though they were games, with set tactics and strategies and totally rational players" (Statt, 1990).
genocide: the killing or elimination of a people or culture by a different people.
Graduated and Reciprocated Initiatives in Tension-reduction: A proposal from 1962 by Charles Osgood to deal with
the nuclear arms race by reversing its dynamic: instead of a small step from each side causing the other to build
more, the small steps would be downward and encourage the other side to respond in kind. More currently, the
concept of confidence-building measures is used in conflicts such as the Israeli/Palestinian dispute.
GRIT: an acronym for Graduated and Reciprocated Initiatives in Tension-reduction
group identification: the tendency to identify one's self as being a member of a specific group. Events which occur to
the group or acts which are done by the group are perceived as inseparable from one's self.
groupthink: "George Orwell's term for the totalitarian imposition of authorized thoughts on all the members of a
society. Taken over by some social psychologists interested in the way that members of very cohesive groups can
become so preoccupied with maintaining a group consensus of thought that their critical faculties become dulled"
habit: a learned response to a given situation which occurs in such a regular fashion that it appears automatic.
explain connection to maintaining power.
hardiness: the inner capacity to survive and thrive even in conditions of extreme external stress.
hate crime: illegal expressive violence which is motivated by a bias against the victim's group
health psychology: the study of the behavior and mental processes associated with promoting physical health.
humor: a playful perception of the incongruous or absurd. When threats to peace are incongruous or absurd, humor
can be both tool and side-effect of nonviolent action.
ideology: a coherent system of beliefs based on an explicit principle.
inner peace: a mental state of tranquility.
instinct: an innate unlearned behavior which is fixed, unchanging, and shared by all the members of a species.
Some have argued that killing and violence are instincts for humans. This view does not find support among most
peace psychologists -- to the contrary, there is much active opposition to the view.
institutional racism: "racially prejudiced behavior that has not been adopted consciously but is simply the
consequence of conforming to the norms and conventions of a society whose institutions of law, government, and
business systematically discriminate against particular racial groups." (Statt, 1990). A major form of structural
instrumental violence: behavior that is violent only as a means to an end. The opposite is expressive violence,
behavior engaged in as an expression of feelings but has little or negative usefulness. Starting a war to exploit
another group's resources is instrumental; starting a war to show off military might is expressive.
integration: the process of mentally organizing different parts into a whole.
integrative complexity: a construct with two components: differentiation and integration. A form of thinking in which
people can see different perspectives on a problem and relate them in a coherent framework. Studies have
suggested this ability helps in resolving crisis situations, and that a reduction of this ability occurs as people move
integrative solutions: means of resolving conflicts which take all the legitimate interests of all the parties into account.
intellectualizing: the act of dealing with a situation entirely in intellectual terms and ignoring emotions. If emotions are
inhibiting violence, this form of dealing with the situation can be a mental underpinning for violence. For example, a
soldier who is commanded to carry out a massacre could use this technique to overcome feelings of revulsion.
interdependency: a need to co-operate with others in order to achieve goals, or a mutual dependence
interest-based approach: a method of resolving conflicts in which the interests underlying positions are considered
in the knowledge that positions can change if interests are met. This approach searches for a win-win solution.
interests: the actual needs or desires which lead to positions in conflicts. At times, positions are in conflict but
underlying interests are less so, leading to the possibility of a satisfactory solution.
intergenerational transmission: a hypothesis in the field of family violence which proposes that patterns of violence
are passed on from one generation to the next, through learning and through dealing with traumatization. Findings
show that those who were abused as children are indeed more likely to abuse as adults compared to others, yet that
a large majority do not abuse. Further, a large portion of those who abuse were not abused as children. Therefore,
this hypothesis can only be one explanation among many.
internal locus of control: a belief in one's own ability to impact events. The opposite is an external locus of control.
People are theoretically more likely to take action to change circumstances if they believe such action can be
effective. See also locus of control.
intrinsic orientation: a tendency to view something as internalized and as an end in and of itself. When applied to
religion, it means that other things are expected to be measured by the standards of the religion, because religion is
the end and not the means. Its opposite is extrinsic orientation.
intrusive imagery: mental representations which are undesired but continually occur in spite of this. Most common
are nightmares, flashbacks, and unwanted thoughts. This a post-trauma symptoms which is apparently even more
severe in perpetrators of violence compared to victims.
jigsaw technique: a learning technique whereby topics are assigned to members of small groups. Those with the
same topics work together and then go back to groups with mixed topics and teach theirs to the others. Because this
sets up a situation where students must rely on each other to get good grades, it fosters group harmony in
situations where group tensions have been.
just world view: an unquestioned assumption that the world is a just place in which the good are rewarded and the
bad are punished. Victims of violence are accordingly believed to have deserved their fate, and the victims are
blamed for the violence.
legitimation of violence model: a proposal that people are more likely to engage in violent behavior if there has been
social approval of violence or positive examples of violence such as a recent war. It has been used to explain, for
instance, the tendency for homicide rates to rise after a war, especially one with high casualties. Though not yet as
well tested, the concept of a de-legitimation of violence model is complementary to this.
linguistic war: the use of words to dehumanize other people and thereby facilitate violence being committed against
them. A synonym of semantic dehumanization and war of words.
locus of control: a belief about the location of what determines events. An internal locus of control is a belief that the
location is within the person who holds the belief, while an external locus of control is a belief that it is outside the
person. Rotter first proposed the concept in 1966, and much study since then has shown an impact of this belief on
whether or not people are inclined to take action.
Machiavellianism: a personality trait characterized by egotistical expedience and cynicism. A Machiavellian views
other people as objects to be manipulated.
martyrdom: a killing of a person in which the sympathies of onlookers or other outside parties is or comes to be with
the person killed, causing a reaction to occur which favors the philosophy of the person killed and is counter to the
interests of those who did the killing.
mind: "a vague term used for many centuries in many different ways. As used today by psychologists it most often
refers to the totality of organized, mainly cognitive psychological processes" (Statt, 1990). "The element ... in an
individual that feels, perceives, thinks, wills, and especially reasons" (Webster's dictionary)
mirror image: a condition in which both sides of a conflict, in holding views of their own side as good and the other as
bad, have similar views about the conflict with the primary difference being to which side they assign the attributes.
misanthropy: hatred of all other people.
misogyny: hatred of women.
mixed-motive conflict: a conflict which could be resolved by both sides winning, both sides losing, or one side winning
and the other losing. Other types of conflict are zero-sum and pure-cooperative. Ascertaining which type of conflict
one is dealing with helps in resolution efforts.
monolithic theory of power: the proposition that people depend on the decision of governments and similar
hierarchies and that power is durable, hard to change, and held by those in hierarchical positions. This non-
psychological theory of power suggests that nonviolence campaigns are useless unless they can persuade those
who already have power. See pluralistic-dependency theory of power.
moral development: a sequence of stages in the ability to make moral judgments and the types of judgments which
moral disengagement: a psychological process whereby original ideas of moral conduct are disconnected from
moral jiu-jitsu: an interaction in which an attack is thwarted by throwing an opponent off-balance using honest and
psychological means. Jiu-jitsu is a martial art which utilizes the opponent's own weight to throw him or her off-
balance, so Mohandas Gandhi coined the term moral jiu-jitsu to indicate that this was being done mentally and using
Narcissistic personality: a personality characterized by a preoccupation with one's self to the exclusion of others.
negative peace: a condition in which war other forms of direct violence are prevented or are otherwise not
happening. See positive peace.
nonviolence: a set of methods for engaging in confrontational conflict using only beneficial or at least non-
destructive means. Because the word has a negative prefix and can be applied to all things that are simply not
violent – which is most things – it is often used with other words to indicate its positive nature: active nonviolence or
nonviolent action, participatory nonviolence, etc. The positive Indian work, satyagraha, is often used, but generally
only by those quite familiar with the subject. Activities that resolve conflict without violence, such as negotiations,
diplomacy, lobbying the legislature or filing a lawsuit, are generally in a different category, though this is not always
clearly the case. Many people will make a violence/nonviolence dichotomy for solving problems, in which case of
course those methods would be regarded as nonviolence.
nuclear psychology: an area of study that deals with psychological aspect of nuclear weapons. Topics include
anxieties and other effects, political attitudes and decision-making processes, and the dynamics of escalation.
obedience: submission to the demands of authority. When the authority is competent, this is normally prudent
action, as when a red light says to stop; when authority is destructive, however, then obedience is destructive as
well, as when a commander orders a massacre.
open system: a set of circumstances in which variables outside the circumstances need to be brought in in order to
help explain events. For example, one can explain why the population is distributed in a certain way by noting that a
mountain is in one place and a river is in another. The mountain and the river do not need to explained. They are
simply taken as a given. Outside variables brought in are called "extraneous" variables. They are practically always
necessary in social sciences. The opposite of an open system is a closed system.
operant conditioning: a form of training in which behavioral change and learning occurs due to positive
reinforcement of desired behavior.
optimism: a belief that things will generally turn out well. It is helpful in motivating action for any sort of campaign,
violent or nonviolent. As an explanatory style, optimists tend to attribute bad events to temporary and specific
causes, which parallels the explanations inherent to the nonviolent approach. It is good events which are attributed
to be permanent and global in explanation.
outgroup homogeneity effect (also called the outgroup homogeneity bias): the perception of people in groups other
than one's own as being more similar to each other than the people in one's own group are perceived as being. This
is often a basis for prejudice.
passion: a poetic word for strong emotions.
passive orientation: a tendency to hold beliefs without acting on them. Its opposite is an active orientation.
peace: a positive societal state in which violence, whether direct or structural, is not a likely occurrence, and in which
all humans, animals, and ecologies are treated with fairness, dignity, and respect.
peacebuilding: taking actions to prevent or alleviate the effects of structural violence.
peacemaking: taking actions to prevent or alleviate the effects of direct violence.
peace psychology: 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. Though there are links within all branches of
psychology, there are especially strong links to social psychology, political psychology, community psychology, and
positive psychology. "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 peacebuilding,
respectively" (Christie, Wagner, & Winter, 2000)
peace studies: an interdisciplinary field that provides research andF scholarship on how to promote peace.
peritraumatic dissociation: a sense of dissociation at the time a trauma is occurring. This includes distortions in the
sense of time, a sense that things which are close are distant, a sense of being separate from a scene one is clearly
a part of, and a sense of unreality about what is happening. This is common in situations over which people have no
control, but also at times when people are engaged in the act of killing.
permissive parenting style: a manner of raising children which disavows punitive restrictions and does not set firm
Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress: the form of post-trauma symptoms in which the person suffering the
symptoms was the cause of the trauma which causes the symptoms. In other words, some of the psychological
consequences of killing or committing other forms of extreme violence.
personality: the typical behavior of individuals across differing situations.
pessimism: the belief that things will generally turn out badly. As an explanatory style, pessimists tend to attribute
bad events to permanent and global causes, which is more likely to lead to a perceived need for violence as a
solution to intractable problems. Good events which are perceived to be temporary and specific, which would make
nonviolent solutions more likely to seem naïve.
physical nonviolence: the conscious rejection of the use of all forms of physical violence in favor of conflict resolution
or pragmatic nonviolent techniques. See also psychological nonviolence.
physical violence: behavior or threat of behavior intended to inflict bodily injury, death, or to remove material
necessary to avoid bodily injury and death. See also psychological violence.
pilot study: a small-scale experiment or survey set up to see whether a larger one is worth attempting, and to find out
if there are any changes needed to improve the design or procedure before resources are spent on the larger study.
pluralistic-dependency theory of power: the proposition that government depends on the decisions and cooperation
of those governed, that it is fragile and requires replenishment and that it disappears if cooperation is completely
withdrawn. Nonviolent revolutions rely on this social-psychological understanding. See monolithic theory of power.
political psychology: the application of psychology to the formation of public policy.
positive discipline: methods of bringing about valuable life skills and good character which involve respect and
attention to long-term effectiveness and avoid punitive or permissive approaches. It is consistent with the
authoritative parenting style.
positive peace: a condition in which social institutions remove the causes of violence through social justice,
nonviolence, and ecological sustainability. See negative peace.
post-conventional morality: in the Kohlberg scheme, the third of three broad stages of development characterized
by reference to rational principles, rather than fear or conventions
post-trauma symptoms: distressing mental processes which result from having experienced traumatic circumstances.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: a pattern of symptoms caused by experience of a trauma and severe enough to
cause some form of impairment. A diagnosis requires fitting the criteria and has various legal consequences. People
can have post-trauma symptoms that are less severe and did not merit full diagnosis. The term was defined as a
result of experiences of combat veterans.
positive psychology: the branch of psychology dealing with mental processes that promote mental health, such as
humor, optimism, creativity, and social support.
poverty: a level of material deprivation which is sufficiently extreme to cause suffering. When caused by the way the
society is organized, it is a form of structural violence.
power: the ability to cause certain things to happen or to cause people to behave in a certain way.
pre-conventional morality: in the Kohlberg scheme, the first of three broad stages of development characterized by
reference to reward and punishment.
prejudice: an attitude, usually emotional and often based on stereotypes, which is hostile to or in favor of groups of
people or ideas. In legal courts, it simply means pre-judging. In behavioral sciences, it is of concern when it entails
hostility to groups of people which can cause discrimination or contribute to violence against those people or to
support of institutions which harm the people.
prescriptive approach: a means of training which facilitators serve as experts and prescribe their own knowledge and
models to participants who learn them. While sharing such expertise is helpful, there are times when it would be
improved by being supplemented with an elicitive approach. This is true of teaching in general, but particularly
important when teaching across cultures.
priming: presenting a word or idea which makes it easier for a particular association or response to be thought of.
Researchers need to be careful of this, because it means responses may be different than what they would have
been if the question had been more open-ended. Sometimes, of course, the research is on what priming will do, as
with the research on the effects of the presence of a gun, and in that case it is used deliberately.
pro-social behavior: behavior which is beneficial to another person or group.
pro-social thinking: mental representations which are beneficial to another person or group.
psychic numbing: a condition in which the mind and behavior are immobilized due to circumstances or memories of
psychohistory: the application of modern psychological thinking to the study of historical events and people. Much of
it has been psychoanalysis of historical figures, but it has expanded to applying psychological concepts to historical
events and to changes in attitudes over time. This is particularly useful to peace psychology, which studies why wars
and other forms of violence have happened.
psychological nonviolence: the conscious rejection of all forms of psychological violence in favor of conflict
resolution or techniques of nonviolence especially designed to reach the consciences of opponents or otherwise
allow them to save face.
psychological violence: behaviors or the threat of behaviors intended to humiliate, intimidate, or otherwise demean
the human dignity of others. See also physical violence.
psychological warfare: "the application of psychological thought and research to the manipulation of attitudes in
wartime, in an attempt to lower the enemy's morale and increase one's own" (Statt, 1990)
psychology: the science of individual human and animal behavior and of mental life.
psychopath: See antisocial personality.
psychosocial trauma: that form of post-trauma symptoms resulting from structural violence or widespread direct
violence that was directed at an entire community.
public health approach: a program which treats a problem as a public health problem to be solved in the same way
that public health problems are normally solved, with education for prevention and treatment for those already
suffering. It is often proposed as a nonviolent alternative to the use of a punitive approach in drug policy.
pure-cooperative conflict: a conflict in which either both sides win or both sides lose. Other types of conflict are zero-
sum and mixed-motive. Ascertaining which type of conflict one is dealing with helps in resolution efforts.
realpolitik: the belief that politics deals entirely with the goal of maximizing power.
relative deprivation: a sense of not getting what was expected, or of being worse off than others by comparison.
repetition compulsion: "the compulsion to repeat the same behavior over and over again, the classic example being
Lady Macbeth's hand washing" (Statt, 1990). Lady Macbeth was having a reaction to her own committing of
violence. A compulsion to repeat can be a cause of further violence.
resilient personality: a personality with characteristics that enable it to handle high-stress events.
restorative justice: a response to crime characterized by a process of healing relationships broken by the crime, in
which victims, offenders, and members of the community take an active part.
role: the behavior expected of a given person in a given situation.
role-playing: practicing a role in a setting different from the one in which the role is normally played, usually as a
means of preparing for later experience. See behavioral rehearsal.
satyagraha: a term used by Gandhi and subsequent followers to describe his concept of nonviolence in a positive
way, literally meaning "truth force" or the power of truth.
scapegoating: the act of blaming an innocent party for anything for which others are actually to blame. The
scapegoat is normally weak and therefore vulnerable to violence at a time when those actually to blame are strong;
people therefore perceive a problem as more solvable if they take action to eliminate the scapegoat, or they use the
scapegoat as the target of their frustrations. Scapegoating is also one of the moral disengagement mechanisms.
script: the expectations of what should occur in specific situations.
secondary traumatization: suffering the effects of trauma without having experience the circumstances directly, but
instead having a visceral reaction by dealing empathetically with the people who did suffer the trauma directly.
second-track diplomacy: informal meetings intended to complement and assist more formal negotiations in which
concerns and creative options can be aired and a search made for integrative solutions. These use a conflict-
resolution model rather than the more common power-compromise model of international negotiations.
self-efficacy: the confidence that one can do things. Since behavior is more likely to be engaged in if one has a fair
degree of confidence that it will achieve the goals that the behavior is designed to achieve, it has an effect on
whether that behavior occurs.
self-fulfilling prophecy: behavior which was caused by expectations that that behavior would occur.
self-serving bias: a tendency to blame others or to blame the situation for failures, but to take credit for personal
successes and attribute them to internal and enduring merit.
semantic dehumanization: the use of words to treat human beings as something inferior to humans. Also called
linguistic war or war of words.
sense of coherence: an orientation of confidence that life is meaningful, comprehensible, and manageable.
serendipity: "from the island of Serendip in Gulliver's Travels; the experience of finding one thing while looking for
another; true in various degrees of major figures in the study of the human condition . . . Also found in users of
dictionaries" (Statt, 1990).
shell shock: see battle fatigue.
slippery slope: a set of small sequential steps leading to an undesirable outcome. The outcome is one which would
be avoided if it had been understood from the outset.
Social Darwinism: "the application to human societies of Darwin's evolutionary theories of natural selection, where
only the fittest members of a species survive. In effect it was (and is) an attempt to justify the existing order by
arguing that the rich and successful have evidently been selected by nature to be rich and successful" (Statt, 1990).
A philosophical justification for structural violence.
social identification: See group identification.
social learning theory: a theory of behavior based on observational learning (especially expounded by Albert
Bandura, and rejecting the unconscious drives of psychoanalysis and the rewards and punishments of behaviorism).
social referencing: examination of other people's behavior to know how to react in an unusual situation.
social psychology: the branch of psychology dealing with social life, the behavior of individuals in social settings,
and the behavior of people in groups.
socialization: the process whereby an individual becomes a social being with an understanding of expected behavior
in social situations.
socialization style: a pattern used by those responsible for raising children. Common categories are authoritarian,
permissive, and authoritative.
sociocentrism: a belief that one's own society is superior to others and the standard by which to measure what it is
good; similar to ethnocentrism.
sociopath: See antisocial personality.
soldier's heart: see battle fatigue.
stereotype: an oversimplified perception of some aspect of the social world or of members of a group; often a basis
stress: physical and psychological strain which threatens the ability to go on coping with a given situation.
structural violence: harm caused by social organization. Examples include poverty, racism, discrimination against
groups of people, pollution, callous inattention to workplaces resulting in injuries, medical neglect, and dehumanizing
confinement in prisons or mental institutions. In contrast, direct violence causes harm through direct action and is
more visible. The concept of structural violence came about in part because peace advocates that were opposed to
direct violence such as war were accused of supporting an unjust status quo by opposing violent revolution against
it; by accounting unjust social situations as being also a form of violence, opposition to violence becomes more
survivor guilt: feelings of guilt for having survived a disaster that others in the vicinity did not survive. This is to be
distinguished from a justified guilt, which is feelings of guilt about things one has actually done. The feelings are not
always clearly separate.
symbolic actions: activities whose purpose is to express a meaningful point in order to change or reinforce certain
perceptions of reality.
sympathy: the ability to understand the suffering or the viewpoint of others.
systematic desensitization: a behaviorist method of deliberate gradual acclimation to an aversive stimulus. It is often
used in a positive way to help people with dysfunctional phobias. When the aversive stimulus is violence, then the
ability to gradually build up more ability to watch or commit violence can be a contributor to having the violence
tolerance for ambiguity: the ability to live with a situation that is not clear cut, with differing interpretations and
unclear outcomes; the ability to handle complexity without recourse to simplistic solutions.
time distortion: perceptual distortion of the passage of time. This is a common psychological phenomenon during the
committing of or exposure to extreme direct violence as well as accidental injurious situations.
trauma: an event which causes intense and long-lasting pain. In medicine, the pain is physical. Psychologists study
mental pain. Traumas can be caused by accidents or natural disasters, but when a trauma is caused by human
agency, this is an act of violence by definition.
violence: destructive or abusive behavior which causes damages due to intention or callous disregard. This vague
definitions allows for a wide variety of interpretations, but such is the nature of the word.
war: large-scale violence between organized groups which are governments or aiming to become governments.
Their aim is political power, that is, control of the government and ability to set policy (Glossop, 1994).
war hysteria: a colloquial term for an individual or societal state in which people are so immersed in a war mentality
that they can only think in terms of victory or defeat and demonization of the enemy, and lose much of the ordinary
understandings of reality that normally prevail.
war of words: the use of words to dehumanize other people and thereby facilitate violence being committed against
them. A synonym of semantic dehumanization and linguistic war.
zero-sum conflict: a conflict in which one side wins, the other loses, and there is no other outcome because the gain
of one must mean loss by the other. Other types of conflict are pure-cooperative and mixed-motive. Ascertaining
which type of conflict one is dealing with helps in resolution efforts.
zero-sum thinking: a belief that one is in a situation where only one group can win, and this means the other must
lose. This may or may not be true in a given situation. This form of thinking interferes with resolution of conflicts
when it exists in situations where it is inaccurate.
These words are all in the glossary, but a list is put here for the convenience of the reader.
Complementary pairs are listed with a slash:
Categories of Peace or Nonviolence:
negative peace/positive peace
inner peace/(outer peace is defined as peace)
satyagraha, ahimsa, moral jiu-jitsu
Categories of Violence:
direct violence/structural violence
expressive violence/instrumental violence
Categories of Psychology Most Related to Peace Psychology: