28 February 2011
A Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology at Canterbury Christ Church University has been awarded a prestigious, international award for his work in understanding and resolving violent group conflicts.
The 2010 Early Career Recipient for the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence, Peace Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association was awarded to Dr Masi Noor for his research contributions to the psychology of violent conflicts, such as the ones in the Middle East, Latin America, and Northern Ireland.
The American Psychological Association said: “The Committee members were very impressed with his scholarly productivity and his ability to integrate research with activism in such important areas.”
Dr Noor, of the University’s Department of Applied Social Sciences, said: “Psychology is the study of the human mind, emotion and behaviour. Conflict settings are rich with these and often in high intensity, as the recent events in Egypt and Tunisia have shown. Thus, this makes them ideal settings for advancing psychological knowledge.
“In turn such knowledge can offer those directly involved in conflicts with constructive perspectives and strategies to manage their otherwise costly conflicts, and also help with the work of intervening third parties, such as conflict mediators and governments.
“One of my main contributions over the last five years has been to re-examine our understanding of the thorny topic of victimhood resulting from past or present violent conflicts. In particular, I have focused on an important ironic tragedy where conflicting groups compete to be the ‘biggest’ victim.
“Traditionally, victimhood has been linked with weakness and helplessness. However, I have found empirical evidence to show that conflicting groups tend to compete over their share of victimhood. Of course, there may be some good reasons for engaging in competition of this nature. For example, to deflect false accusations of injustice and attract empathy and support from those located outside the immediate conflict area.
“Tragically, however, competition over victimhood is among the chief factors that reduce the probability of acknowledging the experiences of the adversary group, and consequently, the prospect for healing damaged relationships. In other words, the conflicting groups have a common need for validation and acknowledgment of their suffering by the other group, but their competitive mindsets may prevent them from mutually recognising the other groups’ suffering.”
Dr Noor is currently planning to test wide-scale intervention strategies with the aim of helping groups to overcome their need to compete over their share of victimhood in communities in Israel. This work has been funded through research grants from the British Academy and academic grants from Israel.
The American Psychological Association will present Dr Noor with his award at the Society’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., in August 2011.
Notes to Editor
- Dr Masi Noor has also conducted research to understand why we choose to help one group over another given that both may be in need of assistance (e.g. preference of charity donations to Tsunami affected victims versus victims of conflict in Sudan).
Canterbury Christ Church University
Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.
With nearly 18,000 students, and five campuses across Kent, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional expertise.
- As a leading provider of teaching and health care courses we have produced nearly 3,500 health and social care professionals and 7,000 teachers in the last five years.
- Over 90 per cent of our graduates gain employment or are in further study in the first six months after graduating.
- Along with over a thousand undergraduate, postgraduate and professional training courses on offer, we are also home to world-leading and internationally recognised research in Education, History, Music and Sports Related Studies.
- Canterbury Christ Church University was founded in 1962 by the Church of England as a teacher training college.