When it comes to preventing violence, research suggests that it is less about what you think and more about how you think.
Do you see the world in black and white? Do you think your perspective is the only valid perspective on an issue?
Are you able to recognize multiple perspectives or dimensions acting and interacting in a conflict?
These questions describe what psychologists call "cognitive complexity" and its corresponding measurement "integrative complexity" or "IC" as in IC Thinking. Research has demonstrated that low cognitive complexity, that is a simple, narrow, categorical way of thinking, is one of the best predictors for whether a conflict will become violent or resolve peacefully.
IC Thinking is an intervention science research group based in the Department of Pscyhology at the University of Cambridge, and a social profit company. Both aim to help people see their world and conflicts in more complex ways in order to prevent violence and promote community. We do this through a variety of approaches that cultivate life skills such as meta-awareness, values affirmations, active listening, emotion regulation, and critical thinking.
Interventions have been piloted and assessed in a wide variety of conflict contexts in the United Kingdom, Kenya, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Pakistan, and Finland with many other interventions currently in development. Interventions are assessed by measuring changes in integrative complexity, which, as a measure of structure not content of thinking, is less vulnerable to self-report desirability bias.
Thus far our results find that participants consistently demonstrate increased cognitive complexity and resilience following the intervention, which means they are less likely to turn to violence, and more equipped to deal with conflict constructively.
Based on these exciting results, we hope to continue to expand the research, development and implementation of IC Thinking interventions in order to improve the lives of participants and prevent violence in fragile conflict contexts.
Organisations are now asking to partner with ICT to develop structures and systems that support rather than erode or even undermine IC flexibility. We are creating IC learning environments and ecosystems across diverse contexts to support IC development.
IC Thinking collaborators are members of the EU Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) 'Pool of Experts'.
If your organisation or agency would be interested in the development of an IC Thinking intervention and IC organisational structures and systems, please get in touch.