Let’s Get to Know Beyond Conflict!

Superficially, humans might not all look the same. But, we all have the same common denominators – we’ve got blood flowing through our veins, neurotransmitters sending chemical messages, and a nervous system firing signals throughout our bodies. 

Despite this, since the dawn of humanity, humans have been divided along various lines; ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, and many more. Beyond Conflict is an organization dedicated to helping society at large overcome conflict on a neurological level.

Connection to others is a vital part of healing from trauma – we can’t do it alone. Conflict is also a huge source of suffering and trauma in the world that we inhabit. Beyond Conflict addresses both of these issues – one of the reasons we’re so excited to have them as part of our Therapeutic Alliance.

Although we don’t like to admit it, we’re all subject to conscious and unconscious bias – prejudices, fears, and learned behaviors. Many of our human conflicts are a result of neural networks we’re not even aware of. 

Beyond Conflict is determined to understand the drivers of conflict by identifying these psychological factors, finding ways of quantifying them, and offering science-based interventions to foster positive social change. Let’s find out more about this fascinating organization!


Who Is Beyond Conflict?

Beyond Conflict has been creating innovative frameworks to overcome conflict in its many guises. This includes opening pathways for progress in peace talks, helping transitions to democracy, and encouraging national reconciliation following division and violence in over seventy-five countries.

The brain motivates all human behavior – conflict included. Most forms of conflict resolution fail to recognize this critical fact. Many of the current approaches fail to take into consideration the unconscious biases present in all of us which influence the way we act and relate to one another. If we leave this out of the equation we can only ever arrive at a partial explanation of how we acted. 

The team at Beyond Conflict combines cutting-edge conflict prevention with the latest in cognitive and behavioral science. They bridge the gap between scientific research and local cultural understanding of real-world communities, focusing on the science of identity and belonging, dehumanization and empathy, trauma, and trust. 


Notable Work

Since their inception in 1992, Beyond Conflict has worked in a huge range of countries and unique situations – naming every single one would take more than the word count would allow. What’s important to remember is that each program has fostered real-world change in individuals that has rippled across society and benefited humanity as a whole. If you want to read more about their achievements, please follow this link.

In the past year, they have focused primarily on the mental health of migrants and refugees, measured toxic polarization, and helped to understand racial biases and reduced dehumanization.

Recently they have:

  • Partnered with Peace Initiatives Network in Nigeria to help address extreme violence between Christians and Muslims using a dehumanization-detection tool and strategic interventions including a plotline in a TV show watched by over 40 million people with extremely promising results.
  • Measured the levels of enmity between American Democrats and Republicans and found that there is a huge disparity between their individual perceptions and reality. They found that members of the other party incorrectly believed that the other party disliked, dehumanized, and disagreed with them twice as much as they really do. Their findings will contribute towards a wider effort of combating toxic polarization.
  • Undertaken a longitudinal study on how individual, social and environmental variables influence racial attitudes, and found that the ideal age to pre-empt the development of racial biases is between 4 and 8-years-old. They are currently developing intervention programs to pre-empt and intervene in racial biases and discrimination.

Conclusion

Trauma and conflict affect every aspect of our global society. By helping to develop knowledge around the neurological motives that underlie conflict, we can move towards healing as a whole. The work that Beyond Conflict does is instrumental to this – we can only address an issue when we fully understand it.

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