Psychologists for Peace

About Us

Working to promote peace in the world and prevent conflict through psychological research, education and advocacy.

PFP is an Interest Group of the Australian Psychological Society. Its members are psychologists, and others, who are concerned about the prevalence of war and conflict in our world and are interested in applying their professional skills to issues relating to promoting peace and preventing war.

A brief history of PFP

PFP was formed in 1984 in response to the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war. The Group's original name was Psychologists for the Prevention of War and its aims were to study, understand and address psychological issues related to the nuclear arms race and the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Since it is human behaviour of both citizens and world leaders which either causes or avoids war, we who study human behaviour can surely contribute both skills and knowledge towards averting war. PFP members have conducted research, surveyed members of parliament and collected and disseminated information regarding the psychological issues involved in war and the nuclear threat.

Today, with the demise of the Cold War and the increased threat of terrorism, the form of threat has changed and as a result PFP's areas of interest have broadened. Following this, the group’s name has also changed over time, becoming Psychologists for the Promotion of World Peace, and in 2005, Psychologists for Peace.

Although stockpiles of nuclear weapons and the possibility of nuclear destruction remain an ever-present concern, and it is now clear that international peace efforts must address multiple issues, such as the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons across many nations, the threat of terrorism, conflicts within nations and the impact of economic and social-justice issues on world peace. The great need to develop and disseminate knowledge on effective non-violent conflict resolution is apparent.

Aims and objectives

The aims and objectives of PFP are to:

  • Encourage the study of issues related to the promotion of peace and prevention of war;
  • Acquire and disseminate knowledge about psychological issues related to war and conflict;
  • Advocate and promote the use of peaceful rather than violent methods for the resolution of conflict;
  • Liaise with other professional groups whose aims are congruent with those of PFP and in accordance with those of the APS.

Aims put into practice

PFP meetings often involve lectures by national or international experts on aspects of preventing war and promoting peace. Full-day conferences on peace psychology have also been run.

Workshops and courses on conflict resolution and how enemy images are formed have been designed, conducted, and disseminated as speaker kits.

PFP members have instituted peace education courses within schools and universities as well as in the United Nations. Currently, the Enhancing Relationships in School Communities (ERIS) program is being run to promote creative and constructive conflict resolution skills through sustained professional development.

PFP has organised symposia and speakers at conferences, conducted national research projects and sponsored a special Peace Psychology issue of the Australian Psychologist journal.

PFP Peace Research Awards
Peace Research Awards are offered annually for fourth year university and coursework Masters students enrolled in a Psychology program. The Awards aim to support research projects on peace psychology topics ranging from interpersonal to international relations.Read about the winner of the 2005 Award and previous winners on the Projects Update page.

Books and articles
Numerous PFP members have edited or written books or chapters on such topics as conflict resolution for adults, groups and children; social issues involved in peace; and exploring possibilities for peace from the interpersonal to international levels.

Educational posters and children's book
PFP has produced a large series of posters and a children's picture book, aimed at educating the public about issues related to bringing about peace.

Posters topics have included: ways to resolve conflict (the popular Wise Ways to Win series); social action programs dealing with the threat of nuclear war; handling anger; raising children peacefully; and promoting peace from the interpersonal to international level.

Many tens of thousands of these posters have been distributed nationally and internationally.

Sections of several of PFP's best-selling posters can be viewed on this website, and are available for sale. See Educational Resources.

PFP members make public statements about the psychological issues related to war as well as to international, intergroup and interpersonal conflict. These involve interviews in radio, television and newspapers; public lectures; and representations to government bodies. Media releases issued by PFP can also be copied by members from 'Members Resources' page and sent on to their local media outlets.

Children's Peace Literature Award
PFP biannually presents an award to one or more authors of a children's book in which the main character resolves a conflict through actively choosing peaceful as opposed to violent methods. The aim of the Award in to encourage and publicise such books, so that children have peaceful models on which to base their own behaviour. See Projects Update for more information including a recommended-reading list and a list of previous winners of the Award.

Recognising Peace Workers' contributions
PFP promotes recognition of those who have made significant contributions to peace through an award nomination project.

Liaising with other groups
PFP liaises with numerous other groups interested in peace issues, both nationally and internationally, and PFP appears on international lists of peace organisations. Joint activities, lectures and meetings often take place.