Bringing together psychology and peace: a critique towards the emancipatory potential of peace psychology

Mónica Catarina Pereira Soares, Ana Margarida Sá Caetano, Mariana Reis Barbosa

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Historically, psychology has been deeply associated with the defense and active normalization of conflicts, war, and established social orders. For instance, it is well-known that one of the most important grounds for the legitimacy of psychology as a scientific discipline depended on psychologists’ work done during the First and Second World Wars. At those times, and perhaps in a culturally biased way, psychological tests for military selection and practical models to treat war-related problems were widely employed. Psychology gained a practical terrain for professionalization for both clinical and social psychologists within such context. However, psychology has also been used on behalf of emancipation, and not always in the field of conflicts, war, and oppression. One of the most interesting critical movements which has tried to move psychology into an emancipatory realm has been Peace Psychology. In general, this discipline has been open to framing, discussing, and participating actively in interventions developed in the name of peace and human rights. In accordance, in this paper, we seek to capture a) the historical development of peace psychology; b) the establishment of peace psychology as a field of psychology and of peace studies; and c) some reflections upon the omnipresent challenges and possible co-options that may shape the emblematic critical engagement of this discipline.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-60
Number of pages28
JournalCampos en Ciencias Sociales
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Peace
  • Peace studies
  • Psychology
  • Human rights
  • History


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