Psychological Geographies

Psychological Geographies are maps that visually and geographically represent subconscious phenomena that drive conflict and division in communities. We map a wide range of factors, from dehumanization, lack of empathy, and social mistrust to trauma exposure and biological markers of stress. Each of these factors have been studied as unique and important contributors to intergroup aggression and conflict, yet to date there are few accessible tools for policymakers and practitioners to meaningfully explore how these factors may affect their specific at-risk communities. By covering a host of relevant biological, cognitive, and psychological issues, our maps give policymakers and concerned organizations a concrete tool with which to understand the spatial dynamics of invisible issues that strongly impact their communities. These maps build a better picture of how infrastructural, settlement, demographic, or policy factors may interact with human psychology, biology, and social behavior to create division and unrest. Ultimately, these maps aid the design of interventions that are informed by a deeper understanding of the unconscious and often overlooked factors that drive conflict. We aim to further develop and roll out tools that would “map” key biological and psychological variables that 1) indicate mental health and wellbeing of refugee and migrant communities, and 2) indicate invisible drivers of potential conflict and violence.  Through this process, our team will create “psychological geographies” of selected “conflict sites,” that visually represent geo-tagged data on biological indicators of trauma and stress, as well as key variables such as aggression, intergroup empathy, dehumanization, and social trust–variables that have been demonstrated as key drivers of conflict and violence.