The American Psychological Association established its Peace Psychology Division (PPD) in 1990. By “applying the knowledge and methods of psychology,” PPD (alternately known as Division 48) seeks “to promote peace in the world at large and within nations, communities, and families” through the use of “psychological and multidisciplinary research, education, and training on issues concerning peace, nonviolent conflict resolution, reconciliation and the causes, consequences and prevention of violence and destructive conflict.” To disseminate its views on the subject of war and peace, PPD, which endorses the agendas of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, publishes a quarterly journal titled Peace and Conflict: The Journal of Peace Psychology.
According to the Peace Psychology Division, military and political responses to terrorism are ineffective and counterproductive. Rather, PPD exhorts the United States to “reduce excessive military expenditures” and initiate unilateral disarmament as a means of demonstrating its benign intentions to would-be aggressors. The Division further recommends therapeutic intervention for the victims of terrorism.
In 2001, PPD sponsored the development of the first college textbook on peace psychology, all proceeds of which are donated to the Division. The 426-page paperback, titled Peace, Conflict, and Violence: Peace Psychology for the 21st Century, offers a Marxist perspective to the issue of international strife. It is edited by Daniel Christie (psychology professor at Ohio State University), Richard Wagner (psychology professor at Bates College), and Deborah Winter (psychology professor at Whitman College). The editors explain that they “tried to capture the four main currents in peace psychology: (1) violence, (2) social inequalities, (3) peacemaking, and (4) the pursuit of social justice.” One of the book’s dominant themes is that wealthy, developed nations — most prominently the United States — are responsible for creating the psychological angst that often erupts into violence abroad. The U.S. does this, says the book, by enjoying a disproportionate share of the world’s wealth, allegedly at the expense of people living in poorer nations. The book holds that “the roots of direct violence can often be traced to structure-based inequalities” inherent in capitalism.
The current President of PPD is Daniel M. Mayton II, a psychology professor at Lewis Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho.