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    Social-psychological theories explain many intergroup conflicts and how they might be resolved. Special attention will be given to their use in conflict transformation.

    Conflicts begin in human minds - therefore, understanding conflict requires the understanding of the influence of social-psychological dynamics. In this paper we will focus on social psychological concepts of intergroup conflict, such as identity and collective memory, and inquire as to how they propel groups towards conflict. We will also consider how understanding these processes can help prevent and resolve conflicts. The paper will involve lectures, discussions and reading materials.

    We will take an academic approach to these subjects, studying them through the critical scholarly lens offered from empirical and theoretical research. As these concepts aim to explain intergroup conflicts, which are multi-layered phenomena often appearing at the macro-level of society, we will discuss the boundaries of each concept and the challenges of how to study them appropriately. Particular focus and attention will be given in all sessions to indigenous experiences and worldviews. We will critically examine the origin of the theories and research covered in this paper. Which boundaries do the concept have for indigenous and under-representative groups?

    Overall the paper has three objectives:

    1. To expose you to a broad sample of the research and theory that exists on intergroup conflict and conflict resolution
    2. To raise your awareness of the special issues involved in performing research in this area, due to the sensitive nature of many of the topics, as well as the complex nature of the phenomena being studied. In some cases, simple laboratory experiments with college students yield reliable and valid results. In many others, a more extensive research paradigm is required
    3. To train you to read academic papers about complex phenomena, using a social psychological lens, and to apply it to investigate intergroup conflicts

    About this paper

    Paper title Psychology of Peace and Conflict
    Subject Peace and Conflict Studies
    EFTS 0.25
    Points 30 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2024 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $2,223.25
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    PSYC 315
    Limited to

    Suitable for graduates of all disciplines interested in issues related to the resolution of intergroup conflict and conflict transformation, as well as professionals and interested members of the public.


    Teaching staff

    Dr Mariska Kappmeier

    Paper Structure

    Session topics:

    1. Introduction and Overview
    2. Identity
    3. Religion
    4. Trust
    5. Dehumanisation
    6. Collective Memory
    7. Collective Victimhood
    8. Reframing Group Boundaries
    9. Contact Theory
    10. Eliciting Reconciliation Reactions: Group-based emotions of guilt and shame
    11. Forgiveness
    12. Kaupapa Māori: Whanau Ora Voices
    13. Student Presentation
    Teaching Arrangements

    Weekly three-hour seminars combining seminar-style discussions, exercises and interactive activities.


    Weekly set readings will be advised.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete this paper will develop knowledge and skills to:

    1. Explain and critique the broader social-psychological research and theory on intergroup conflict and peace
    2. Apply the research in social-psychology to the diagnosis of conflict and conflict resolution and provide tools for process design and evaluation
    3. Read and write academically about complex conflict systems, using a social-psychological lens
    4. Have a raised awareness of the special issues involved in performing research in this area.Critical reflection on colonial bias in practice and experience of decolonising approaches within Peace Psychology


    Not offered in 2024

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system
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