Dehumanization – perceiving other people as less than human – has been associated with the darkest chapters in human history, from slavery and colonization to war and genocide. Beyond Conflict wants to understand the psychological processes and brain mechanisms that underlie and shape some of the psychology of dehumanization and develop measures to detect, reduce, and prevent it.
After spending 25 years promoting conflict resolution and social change around the world, Beyond Conflict is launching a new initiative in Boston focused on transforming attitudes contributing to racism and discrimination. Our approach is guided by our experience working to address social division and exclusion in societies around the world, as well as new research from brain and behavioral science that will help us understand and target the underlying drivers of how we think and behave.
Across the nation – and globally – institutions and local governments are seeking new and more meaningful approaches to inclusion and diversity. Too often, these challenges are seen primarily through the lens of human resources and compliance metrics, and miss the profound reality that inclusion is a subjective “felt” experience that, when more fully understood and appreciated, can lay the foundation for a more inclusive institution and community.
The Field Guide for Barefoot Psychologists is a pilot educational and self-care tool written for individuals (16+) forcibly displaced, and for those working with them. It is intended most specifically for migrants and refugees who themselves may work in humanitarian and aid programs, as they have the most close and organized contact with large numbers of community members struggling with mental health and wellbeing.
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.
Deepening polarization among Democrats and Republicans in the United States represents a major challenge to American political and social life. Left unaddressed, it will further weaken the United States domestically and around the world. Beyond Conflict is working to create accurate, accessible, and actionable measurements and tools for policymakers, practitioners, funders, and others interested in reducing polarization in order to create better informed responses and programs across the United States.