Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking


Ireland has been suffering from Anglo-Irish conflict for many centuries.  In the 1920’s, Ireland underwent segregation, and Northern Ireland evolved (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012).  Additionally, the rise of the Catholic Middle class led to the development of new education and industry for the country (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012).  Marches to back up the Catholic movement brought out riots in the streets making it necessary for Northern Ireland to call out British troops in the 1960’s (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012).  The conflict led to thousands of deaths and injuries.  Developing the current peace agreements has helped, but the conflict is not over as Northern Ireland is still divided constricting intergroup contact (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012).  When societies experience conflict, it is vital that the communities reach out to the youth as the youth is the future of society.  Reaching out to the youth is an attempt to reduce the potentially harmful consequences of being raised among a conflicted and violent society (MvKeown, & Cairns, 2012).  The youth have become the focus of preventing the continuance or re-emergence of the conflict in the future (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012).  Ireland has implemented several interventions to deflect the consistency of conflict in children in Northern Ireland.

Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking Tactics

In an effort to improve intergroup relationships for the youth, the young people of Ireland are removed from the area and relocated to temporary homes in Ireland, Britain, Holland, and America for the duration of the conflict marches (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012).  The relocation is known as a holiday scheme and intends to promote intergroup interaction and decrease the separation of the groups (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012).  Removing the children from the point of conflict reduces the group being affected and combines the group others of similar indifferences (Myers, 2010).  Additionally, working through conflict in smaller groups allows individuals to feel a sense of belonging and an important part of the process of conflict resolution (Myers, 2010).  The smaller group promotes communication among the conflicting societies as well.  Communication leads to cooperation that enacts a group identity in turn causing individuals to think of the welfare of the group communicating as a whole rather than segregated welfare of the individuals (Myers, 2010).

Northern Ireland introduced integrated schools into the education system in an effort to promote intergroup relationships between Catholic and Protestant faiths (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012).  The integrated education is an effort to have children from both sides of the divide to communicate (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012).  It is a means to reduce the levels of segregation among the two groups, hoping to bring awareness of the differing beliefs, ethnicities, and abilities of all individuals (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012).  Integrating schools teaches the youth about the societal norms of the two groups.  Societal norms include reciprocity, equality, and responsibility (Myers, 2010).   Having knowledge of the norms in a society promotes acceptance among all groups involved and gives a clear understanding of the similar, but differing expectations of being an accepted member of society (Myers, 2010).

The cross-community integration programs implemented in Northern Ireland resulted in the majority of the individuals involved claiming a positive outcome from the efforts (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012).  The efforts have allowed individuals to adopt favor toward the individuals of the opposite group (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012).  The positive outcomes demonstrate that conflict among segregated groups can be resolved through communication and group reduction (Myers, 2010).  Mirror imaging is a concept in which individuals see the good of the side he or she is part of but view the society in opposition as negative (Myers, 2010).  Negative mirror imaging hinders individuals and group to make accurate perceptions of the opposing group making it difficult for the two groups to come together in peace (Myers, 2010).

Cross-community integration programs invoke friendships between members of opposing groups.  Invoking friendships opens lines of communication and desegregates those in opposition (Myers, 2010).  Integration programs have proven beneficial when the contacts are between individuals with equal statuses (Myers, 2010) such as the youth integration programs in Northern Ireland.  When the youth is partaking in the integration programs, the individuals interact with others who are facing similar conflict and dilemma.  The similarities between the different circumstances forces the two groups to share a mutual unity as both are empathetic to the others circumstances (Myers, 2010).  As the unity strengthens, cooperation between the two ignites and integration increases (Myers, 2010).  As integration increases, communication increases and peacemaking begins as the groups land on a mutual decision of making peace.  Additionally, the integration causes changes in individual attitudes leading to a change in behavior (McKeown, & Cairns, 2012).


Conflict resolution and peacemaking are vital to the success of any group that is post-conflict.  Developing plans of action to decrease the conflict and bring a unity among those involved in the conflict is vital to achieving a successful outcome.  Northern Ireland developed a plan that has the potential of completely deteriorating the conflict and bringing peace to the societies involved.  The youth is the future.  Taking the youth into programs that support cross-community integration causes a chain reaction of events that aid in obtaining peace.  Friendships are built, and communication and unity heighten.  As the youth age and become prominent in societies, the values and attitudes learned from the program are put into effect potentially ending the conflict between Protestants and Catholics causing a harmful segregation among the two groups.


McKeown, S., & Cairns, E. (2012). Peacemaking youth programmes in northern ireland. Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 4(2), 69-75. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/17596591211208274

Myers, D.  G.  (2010).  Social psychology (10th ed.).  New York, NY:  McGraw Hill.


Conformity Related to Obedience

Conformity is a social influence in which individual changes a belief or behavior in order to adhere to a social or group norm.  It is not necessarily an act consistent with their personal moral or ethics, but an act of approval seeking.  In fear of facing social rejection or being perceived as a social outcast, an individual may succumb to the social norm even if it out of their personal norm.  Obedience is a social influence in which an individual carries out an act in response to a direct order usually given by a person of authority.  Obedience may not be consistent with the individual’s morals or ethics either, but the act is carried out anyway.  In fear of facing harsh consequences, an individual obeys orders handed down from a person with authority.  Being obedient does not mean that the individual changes a belief, attitude, morals, or ethics, but simply obeys in order to avoid punishment.

As children grow and develop, they become sensitive to their personal identity and figuring out who they are.  They choose to conform to the social mass in their school as an effort to fit in or feel as if they belong.  Finding acceptance within the social norm may ultimately lead to a change in the personal beliefs and find peace in conformity.  Obedience is found in normal aspects of life such as following traffic or criminal laws.  Some people obey laws and instruction because they feel it is necessary to obey in order to avoid discipline or rejection from a group.  Others choose to obey because in reality, they have no other option, or they have severe consequences as with prisoners.


Self Reflections – Social Psychology

One thing all individuals share is the sense of self, or the infamous question, “Who am I?”    The sense of self is the core of personal identity that consists of positive or negative thoughts about one’s self.  Thoughts of one’s self derive from life experiences, perception of self versus perception of the world and self-assessment.  Individual’s strive to maintain relationships in society by creating identities that can associate with the external social world (Myers, 2010).  The primary concern of self is the manner in which the social world will perceive the individual (Myers, 2010).   The interactions of self-concept, self-esteem, and self-efficacy  generate the external self into the social world through evolutionary adaptations that allow for interaction with the environment (Freese & Burke, 1994).  Social experience brings about the evolution and adaptations of self to further define who we are.

Concept of Self

Defining the concept of self in the world is to determine the answer to the question, “Who am I?”  The ability of an individual to identify who they are interpersonally as well as externally in the social world is the most important aspect of a human’s development (Myers, 2010).  The development of relationships between self and the social world cause a chain reaction of adaptations necessary to achieve the desired acknowledgments and acceptance allowing a sense of comfort within an individual (Myers, 2010).  In order for individuals to successfully process the various self-relevant information  they routinely encounter, individuals develop self-schemas (Stein, 1995).

Self-schemas are a form of cognitive organization that integrate experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings about self into a behavior domain within the brain (Stein, 1995).  These templates may develop any aspect of the self such as physical traits and characteristics, social roles, and specific skills and are stored in domains the individual values (Stein, 1995).  Schemas shape individual perceptions, memories and responses as they are related to and utilized in social interaction (Stein, 1995).  Schemas have proven to allow faster response and more consistent interaction with those skills, beliefs, emotions, and feelings that have established a domain (Stein, 1995).  For instance, an individual that has a domain for the “runner self” will run more often and also develop an internal motivation plan to keep running as a constant in their lifestyle.  Those individuals who do not have this domain within self, will not experience the inner drive to go run.  Another aspect of the self-schema is the ability to store memories of the past and present to aid in the future adaptations of self (Stein, 1995).  This phenomenon, known as the possible self enables individuals to recall their experiences of the past in comparison to the present.  The comparison allows individuals to make decisions for future experiences with the ideas of potential outcomes (Stein, 1995).  Possible schemas include positive behaviors of desire (socially acceptable) and negative behaviors of dread (socially unacceptable) (Myers, 2010).

Often, human knowledge of self is flawed giving unrealistic visions of self in areas of self-concept, self-esteem, and self-efficacy (Myers, 2010).  Influences of behavior are sometimes invisible to the individual as in cultural influences because they seem to be a natural way of life (Myers, 2010).  On the other hand, external influences established through observation sometimes conflict with internal beliefs but are practiced despite the conflict in order to gain acceptance from a particular societal culture (Myers, 2010).  To be true to one’s self, one must not allow for internal conflict to overturn personal values, morals, and beliefs, but to accept the differences individuals have from society.  It is vital for individuals to understand all aspects of self to gain a full understanding and acceptance of who they really are.

Apply Self to Life

Self-concept is how an individual thinks about, perceives, and assesses themselves within the world (McLeod, 2008).  Within self-concept lies self-schemas that solidify  who we were, are, and could potentially be.  My past self includes a scared, defiant, weak individual who would succumb to another world in order to fell a sense of tranquility and acceptance.  I was a lost soul tormented with addiction.  Today, I am a strong, highly motivated, dedicated mother who strives to continue to better my life for the sake of my children and my personal well-being.  I am unconventional and unpredictable as I enjoy teaching those around me that being true to yourself is perfectly acceptable.  I am spiritual, loving, kind, and always willing to listen to anyone who needs a friend.  I am np longer tormented with addiction, but rather embrace my past addictions as positive learning experiences.  My possible selves include a criminal psychologist talking to the most heinous criminals to learn what makes them tick, an addictions counselor, a behaviorist, a successful mother,  a stable provider, and the list is endless, as I am a dreamer.  Possible selves also include those selves we dread.  For me, this would include failing as a mother, failing in education, or breaking my sobriety.

Self-esteem is the extent to which an individual values themselves including positive and negative evaluations of our personal self-worth (McLeod, 2008).  Low self-esteem can be disparaging and debilitating to an individual as they feel worthless and disconnected from the social world (Myers, 2010).  High self-esteem may evoke an excessive self-worth that potentially creates unrealistic goals and narcissistic tendencies within the individual (Myers, 2010).  The drastic consequences associated with self-esteem requires an individual find a balance between the two to avoid potential downfalls within their sense of self (Myers, 2010).  My self-esteem fluctuates depending on life stressors and circumstances at the moment.  I may feel confident in my abilities at one moment, but that tends to deflate rapidly if I find I made an error.  In some aspects of life, I am confident in my performance, but in other areas, I must have external motivation and praise to continue.  I am aware of the impact that external sources can have on my self-esteem, and though I try to avoid those low blows, I do get lost  in the negativity and sometimes begin to feel as if that perception is valid.  Other times, external sources create an internal drive for me to accomplish a particular goal that I really had no desire to achieve when I began.

Self-efficacy is an individual’s personal belief in their capacity to perform certain tasks (Myers, 2010).  The higher an individual’s self-efficacy, the higher the goals the individual will set and the lower the self-efficacy, the higher the potentially of low goal setting and quitting (Myers, 2010).  My self-efficacy is  very high.  I tend to set high goals for myself, and then maximize those goals with smaller goals to accommodate the larger goal.  For instance, I am a single mother of six children who works full time.  I have also taken on an educational goal that I am currently exceeding my personal expectation of performance.  When I set goals, I find an unbelievable amount of motivation to keep me dedicated to accomplishing or surpassing my set goal.  I attribute this aspect of self to my success with my current employer as well as my children’s dedication to their personal education.  We lead by example, and the example I set for my children and employees is an active commitment with internal rewards that exceed the materialistic reward.

Social Experiences that affect Personal Development

Throughout life, we all experience circumstances that in some way affect our personal development.  I can describe infinite experiences that have had a significant impact on my development, but I think the most significant would be my experience with drug addiction. Prior to entering the dark world of drugs, I was brave, smart, dedicated, and had a firm belief that there was nothing that could break me.  I became a new person in the fast life, and no longer had a passion for my true self.  I held everyone and everything important to me in complete disregard, eventually leading me to experience a total loss of life.  As I sobered up, I changed my life and soon found that I higher dimensions of character containing morals, ethics, and spiritual beliefs.  Finding these within my soul led me to a sense of peace and acceptance of my true self that I had never before experienced.  Finding this acceptance has given me the strength to endure the incredible journey of parenting.

Entering the world of parenting has probably initiated immense adaptations in my life.  When I began having children, I was forced to evaluate my life and assess who I truly was.  Becoming a parent enlightened me to the actual foundations that support my personal self.  I had to define my ethics, beliefs, and morals in order to raise my children to love and be empathetic to others in order to gain and give respect.  I have learned to be selfless and adopt centering my life around my children and their desires rather than my own. Most importantly I have learned to be empathetic towards other, especially my  parents and grandfather, which is phenomenal in itself.  I learned that the motivations behind discipline I received was out of love and concern for my well-being.  I learned how heart-wrenching it is to watch your child suffer, whether by their own fault or societal pressures, teaching me what it really means to fight for the sanity of your child.


          One cannot possibly find their true self without first understanding the concept of self.  Self-esteem and self-efficacy are the primary motivating factors in an individual that allow for growth and adaptation in order to survive in the social world.  Individuals develop self-schemas that directly relate them to their personal beliefs, morals, and ethical codes that produce their external being.  Although externally one may wear a mask to conceal their true self, behind closed doors, they find comfort in their true being.  Our experiences throughout life, beginning in the womb impact us in ways that promote adaptation in an effort to gain social acceptance.  Learning your true self allows for an inner acceptance of the diverse societies of the world.


Freese, L.  L., & Burke, P.  J. (1994).  Persons, identities and social interaction.  Pp. 1-24 in B. Markovsky, et al. (eds.)  Advances in Group Processes, Vol.  11.  Greenwich, Conn.:  JAI Press.

McLeod, S.  A.  (2008).  Self Concept.  Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.rg/self-concept.html

Myers, D.  G.  (2010).  Social psychology (10th ed.).  New York, NY:  McGraw Hill.

Stein, K.  F.  (1995, Fall).  Schema Model of the Self-concept.  University School of Michigan School of Nursing, 27(3), 187-193.