Anyone who is studying conflict resolution or training/working as a conflict resolution practitioner would appreciate the importance of psychology for understanding, managing, and resolving conflict. In 2021, an opportunity arose for me to complete a Graduate Certificate in Psychology, and I chose a suite of subjects that were relevant to my work as a conflict resolution lecturer, researcher, and practitioner.

These subjects focused on:

  • social psychology
  • personality psychology
  • cognitive psychology
  • behavioural neuroscience.

Studying the Graduate Certificate in Psychology with the lens of a conflict resolution scholar and practitioner was such an enriching experience that my colleague Claire Holland and I decided that I should develop a new subject for our postgraduate Conflict Management and Resolution program at James Cook University (JCU) to share the new knowledge gained with our students. We called the subject “Neuroscience, Psychology and Conflict” and it combined both psychological and neuroscientific knowledge as it relates to conflict analysis and resolution.

This subject was unique since it brought together multiple disciplines (note that the field of conflict analysis and resolution is already a multidisciplinary field of study) and because its structure and content had been influenced by my personal filters and judgements of what I considered important for the understanding of conflict analysis and resolution. Because of the uniqueness of the subject, I could not identify any existing textbook that covered the topics that I wanted to teach, which led me to write my own textbook in the form of an eBook While the combination of topics in one resource and the focus on conflict management is unique, the content of this eBook is grounded in research and scholarly work and references to this work are made throughout the eBook. Furthermore, several scholars and experts in different areas of psychology have contributed to the development of the content of this eBook. Please refer to the acknowledgements for a full list of experts who assisted me with the writing of this eBook.

Organisation and Structure of this eBook

In this eBook, you will be introduced to behavioural neuroscience and three branches of psychology (cognitive psychology, personality psychology and social psychology) as they relate to conflict. Knowledge from these branches can help support your understanding of why conflict occurs, how it develops and how we may be able to manage or resolve it. There is of course much more to these four branches, and this eBook focuses on those theories, approaches and components that appear to add value to understanding how people think, feel and behave when they are in conflict.

As for the structure of this eBook, the first Chapter will introduce you to the human brain and the biological basis for behaviour and you will consider how this knowledge may help explain the behaviours of people in conflict and conflict resolution processes. In Chapters 2 and 3, you will learn about the mind and consider its cognitive and emotional dimensions and how these relate to the experience of conflict. In Chapter 4 we will ”zoom out” and explore “the person” and approaches to understanding individual differences to personality and how these may play out in conflict and conflict resolution. In Chapter 5, we will zoom out even further and consider individuals in interactions and relationships with others, with a focus on social influence. You will also learn about social psychology insights into interactions between groups and group dynamics to explain social conflict.


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Neuroscience, Psychology and Conflict Management Copyright © 2024 by Judith Rafferty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.