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Psychology, Social Science and the Management of Violent Conflicts in Nigeria

OO Ojiji


Conflict provides the context for the manifestation of some of the most
horrendous instances of violence in Nigeria. This paper discusses the salient aspects of an eight – year experience in the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Abuja – Nigeria, where the author attempted to apply psychological principles in the conduct and supervision of research, advocacy and direct conflict management in some parts of Nigeria. Some of the significant observations are that; (a) within the Institute, among the members of the social science family, psychology is the least associated with the multidisciplinary “theatre” of conflict management arising from ignorance among fellow social scientists about the subject matter of psychology and rivalry emanating from subtle competition among sub disciplines of the social science for hegemonic role in conflict management, (b) many of the social scientists working in the Institute have limited skills in research, advocacy and practical conflict management, (c) in most cases, these other social scientists are oblivious of ethical issues in conflict research and management processes. For psychologists to make any appreciable impact in conflict management and contribute to the prevention of violence in Nigeria, they need to understand and communicate in a language that is mutually comprehensible to other social
scientists. Psychologists operating in multidisciplinary settings need to cure
themselves of their obsession with theoretical and methodological purity and sophistication in order to engage in meaningful and productive communication as well as foster better relationships with “more socially- minded” social scientists.

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