Brain and Behavioural Insights

Brain and Behavioural Science—the science of how people think and act—provides a promising complementary new approach to advance peacemaking and preventive diplomacy. Behavioural Science can, for instance, help us better understand aspects of exclusion and inclusion in culturally diverse social settings, the spontaneous eruption of violence and intergroup dynamics, or emotion-focused power imbalances in peace negotiations. It can help us understand and address how universal human tendencies, coupled with unique contextual factors in the environment, create obstacles to the effective implementation of political and peace processes.


While UN peacemakers working in conflict contexts are intuitively applying techniques from psychology and behavioural economics in their mediation and preventive diplomacy engagements, we are exploring a more systematic approach to the application of evidence-based psychological and behavioural techniques. Together with academic partners, DPPA is assessing possible connections between preventive diplomacy and insights from social and cognitive neuroscience, including the use of brain and behavioural science, to develop and test new tools for practitioners in the fields of peacemaking and peacebuilding. Evidence from these fields suggests that such insights can be used to enhance early warning systems, improve measurement and evaluation methods and outcomes, and drive novel peacebuilding and peacemaking interventions.


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