University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Linda Tropp

Dr. Linda Tropp, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program

Dr. Tropp’s research focuses on expectations and outcomes of intergroup contact, identification with social groups, interpretations of intergroup relationships, and responses to prejudice and disadvantage. She received the 2012 Distinguished Academic Outreach Award from the University of Massachusetts Amherst for excellence in the application of scientific knowledge to advance the public good. Tropp has also received the Erikson Early Career Award from the International Society of Political Psychology, the McKeachie Early Career Award from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, and the Allport Intergroup Relations Prize from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.

Tropp is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. She has been a visiting scholar at the National Center for Peace and Conflict Studies (New Zealand), the Kurt Lewin Institute (Netherlands), the Marburg Center for Conflict Studies (Germany), Pontificia Universidad Católica (Chile), the University of California, Berkeley (USA), and the International Graduate College on Conflict and Cooperation (Germany, UK, Belgium), where she taught seminars and workshops on prejudice reduction and intervention.

She has worked with national organizations to present social science evidence in U.S. Supreme Court cases on racial integration, on state and national initiatives to improve interracial relations in schools, and with non-governmental and international organizations to evaluate applied programs designed to reduce racial and ethnic conflict. She is co-author of “When Groups Meet: The Dynamics of Intergroup Contact” (March 2011, Psychology Press), editor of the “Oxford Handbook of Intergroup Conflict” (June 2012, Oxford University Press), and co-editor of “Moving Beyond Prejudice Reduction: Pathways to Positive Intergroup Relations” (February 2011, American Psychological Association Books) and “Improving Intergroup Relations” (August 2008, Wiley-Blackwell).

Dr. Linda Tropp's CV 

Bernhard Leidner

Dr. Bernhard Leidner, Assistant Professor of Psychology

His research focuses on processes of social identification and intergroup relations, primarily in the context of large social categories such as nations and ethnic groups. Specifically, his research is at the cross-road of the social psychological areas of norms and morality (e.g., moral disengagement in response to ingroup wrongdoings), intergroup threat (e.g., threat-induced shifting of moral principles such as fairness or loyalty), and social justice (e.g., reparations after ingroup wrongdoings; conflict resolution).

Some of the topics Dr. Leidner investigated/s include: reactions to ingroup-committed torture; American justice appraisals after atrocities committed in Iraq and Afghanistan; reconciliation strategies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is currently interested in the search and need for meaning as motives for human 'warlikeness' and peacefulness.

Dr. Bernhard Leidner 's CV

Dr. Bernhard Leidner's webpage

Brian Lickel

Dr. Brian Lickel, Associate Professor of Psychology

Dr. Lickel’s research focuses on how people interpret events in intergroup conflicts and how these interpretations affect their emotions, self-concepts, and support for different social and political policies.  A key assumption in his work is that understanding people’s emotions is important for unlocking the processes that amplify or reduce intergroup conflict. 

Recently, much of his work has examined what determines the emotions that occur in the context of violent intergroup conflicts and how these emotions predict support or opposition to intergroup aggression.  Besides understanding people’s reactions to these macro-conflicts, he also studies emotional reactions in interpersonal situations where inter-group conflicts come into play (such as people’s reactions to observing anti-Muslim discrimination in the United States).

Looking forward, the two primary themes of his upcoming research are:
•    Understanding how the cognitive and emotional processes of individuals are influenced by (and influence) the social and political processes in groups during intergroup conflicts.
•    Understanding the processes by which people reflect on and change their personal values and entrenched habits, particularly in contexts that evoke feelings of anxiety and shame.

Dr. Brian Lickel's CV

Dr. Brian Lickel's Webpage

Dr. Brian Lickel's Lab

Ervin Staub

Dr. Ervin Staub, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Founding Director

Dr. Staub has been president of the International Society of Political Psychology as well as the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence (Division 48 of the American Psychological Association). From the latter organization, he received the "Award for life-long contributions to peace psychology."

Dr. Staub has published numerous articles and chapters on helping behavior and altruism, the passivity of bystanders in the face of others' need, the development of caring, and ways to reduce aggression in children. Included among his extensive writings is the influential, Psychology of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group Violence (Cambridge University Press, 1994).

Dr. Staub studies the roots of violence between groups, especially mass killings, genocide, and terrorism. He has also studied reconciliation after violence and its prevention. Dr. Staub has applied his work in numerous real world settings. For example, he created a training program for California police officers in the wake of the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles; he also worked in Massachusetts schools on a project assessing bullying and school climate in an effort to promote more caring schools. 

Dr. Staub has been involved in a number of projects designed to promote "healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation" in Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide just over a decade ago. This work has been supported by the John Templeton Foundation, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and others.

Dr. Ervin Staub's webpage

Stellan Vinthagen

Dr. Stellan Vinthagen,  Endowed Chair in the Study of Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Resistance, Professor of Sociology and Adjunct Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Stellan Vinthagen, an internationally known Swedish peace activist and educator in conflict transformation and civil disobedience, has been named the inaugural holder of an endowed chair in the study of nonviolent direct action and civil resistance at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  In his new role, Vinthagen will teach, meet with activists from around the globe and convene gatherings in Amherst where leaders can collaborate with resistance researchers and share knowledge with each other and students.

Vinthagen brings 30 years of experience in nonviolent action and strategy planning in peace, justice and environmental movements to this position, which will commence in Fall 2014.  A scholar, activist, author, lecturer and world traveler, he currently holds academic positions at two universities in Sweden.  He has been associate professor in sociology at University West, Trollhattan, and senior lecturer in peace and development studies and co-leader of the Resistance Studies Group at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg. He is also academic advisor for the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict in Washington, D.C. 

Vinthagen has a Ph.D. in peace and development research and a bachelor’s degree in sociology and international relations, both from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.  He has conducted three years of field work research in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia. He served a total of a year in prison for various peace protests involving civil disobedience.  He is the author or co-author of seven books and editor of two others and has written 17 peer-reviewed articles, 15 book chapters and numerous other texts.  He is a member of the Peace and Development Scholar Network, the Nonviolence Commission of the International Peace Research Association and a council member of War Resisters International. He is co-founder of the Resistance Studies Network and an associate of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research.

Dr. Stellan Vinthagen's CV