The 12 keys to being a peaceful person - Pollack Peacebuilding Systems (2023)

What makes a person peaceful? This is a question everyone from parents to organizational leaders wants an answer to. For people interested in evolving themselves and others into more peaceful human beings, understanding the keys to being a peaceful human being is crucial.

A 2021 review of peace research with a focus on creating a psychological foundation for peace education (Nelson, 2021). Resulted from thisfive crucial factors for peace interventionsthat educators should consider when designing peace education programs. These five crucial factors include competencies, self-regulatory dispositions, perceptual constructs and dispositions, motives and values, and outcome expectations. Within these five categories there are 12 keys to being a peaceful person. If organizations or schools want to develop staff/students who embody peaceful behavior, their interventions need to focus on improving these key elements.


Referring to the previously mentioned five crucial factors, the following are the 12 keys to being a peaceful human being: The Competencies category includes problem-solving and conflict resolution skills, while the Self-Regulatory Skills category includes mindfulness and affect regulation. The category "perceptual constructs and dispositions" includes identification with people, beliefs in self-efficacy and the willingness to adopt perspectives. The motives and values ​​category includes concern for the well-being of others, universalism versus power values, and rejection of norms of revenge. Finally, the Expectations of Outcome category includes belief in the effectiveness of peaceful action and hope for peace.

Below is a brief overview of each of the 12 Keys to Being a Peaceful Person, adapted from Nelson (2021).

(Video) The 12 Keys to Being a Peaceful Person

problem solving ability

Conflicts are inherently fraught with problems. No wonder, then, that peaceful resolution requires the ability to solve problems effectively. Research describes the importance of problem solving as one of the keys to being a peaceful person too.

AStudy 2004(Frauenknecht & Black) found that a problem-solving program for kindergarten and first graders resulted in more social problem-solving, cooperation, positive peer relationships, and less impulsiveness. Studies of college students found that those trained in problem solving in international conflict contexts were better able than control groups to develop conciliatory strategies in international conflict simulations (Nelson et al., 1995).

conflict resolution capacity

As with problem-solving, a person's level of conflict-solving ability is likely to make a difference in how they handle conflict when it arises. Research suggests the same thing, with several studies showing that educational conflict resolution programs for children and adolescents result in less aggression and improved communication, cooperation, and conflict resolution skills, among other things.(Jones, 2004).

Conflict resolution intervention programs for adults have also been successful in improving employee relationships, productivity, and motivation. interventions inConflict resolution training for schoolseConflict resolution training for the workplacewere also considered useful in reducing the potential destructive consequences of the conflict.


Mindfulness is one of the keys to being at peace, as it has a remarkable impact on the development of intrapersonal and interpersonal peace.mindfulnessIt includes the components of focusing attention on the immediate moment and approaching experiences with openness, curiosity, and acceptance.

Multiple studies in groups of all ages have shown that the practice of mindfulness contributes to the development of constructive conflict management, greater emotional understanding, greater empathic concern, and greater perspective-taking. A specific intervention in elementary schools found that in addition to the above positive outcomes, a mindfulness program reduced self-reported depression and aggression (Schonert-Reichl et al., 2015).

Regulation of affection and self-control

Affective regulation or emotion regulation describes the ability to manage your emotions. In conflict, emotional management and regulation are key to responding rather than reacting. The ability to recognize emotions in conflict situations and to deal with them constructively is the key to effective conflict resolution.

In a study that focused on emotional intelligence, participants who performed better on an EQ test reported more positive relationships and fewer negative interactions.(Lopes, Salovey & Straus, 2003). This alone shows why the regulation of affect is one of the keys to a peaceful human being.

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identification with humanity

Identifying with humanity means acknowledging a common humanity that is shared in all of life's interactions. Acting with an understanding of shared humanity, regardless of group identity, is an additional key element of being a peaceful human being. Identifying with all humanity especially helps to improve interpersonal and intergroup peace.

Studies using the Identification With All Humanity scale (McFarland, Webb, & Brown, 2012) have found that higher scores indicate greater support for human rights, equal appreciation of ingroup and outgroup members, concern for humanitarian indicate needs and more. To teach students or staff to identify with humanity, Nelson (2021) suggests that educators can use films or literature that express the values ​​of shared humanity in conflict.

self-efficacy beliefs

Self-efficacy beliefs, including self-efficacy beliefs and collective efficacy beliefs, revolve around the idea that one can achieve one's goals. These beliefs are fundamental to the promotion of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and interpersonal peace. On an intrapersonal level, self-efficacy interventions lead to increased self-motivation while reducing depression, pain, and stress.(Bandura, 1986). Interpersonally, greater self-efficacy enables more positive behavior in conflict. In intergroup settings, greater self-efficacy is associated with greater activism on social justice issues.

When developing peace education programs or interventions, dealing with self-efficacy is of great importance. This can be done through activities such as role play and service projects, where participants are likely to be successful if they behave peacefully.

perspective arrangement

That's no surpriseperspective takenit is one of the keys to being a peaceful person. Perspective taking is such a valuable tool in conflicts because it enables more constructive communication and thus better conflict management.

Taking the perspective of others is a fundamental conflict communication skill that allows the individual to agree with the other when in doubt, rather than assuming malicious intentions. This tool can be taught as part of negotiation, mediation or peer mediation training, as all three require the perspective of others.

concern for the well-being of others

As one of the keys to being a peaceful human being, concern for the welfare of others lies within the broader category of an individual's motives and values. This key element represents the compassion and sympathy people feel for others. It may seem that this is inherent in every human being and would be a difficult subject to teach directly. However, studies suggest that some of the other elements listed above may indirectly lead to greater concern for the well-being of others, such as: B. Perspective taking, mindfulness and identification with humanity.

Universalism versus power values

AccordinglySchwartz (1992)The values ​​of universalism include factors such as environmental protection,The 12 keys to being a peaceful person - Pollack Peacebuilding Systems (1)Oneness with nature, wisdom, equality, openness to the world, inner harmony, a world of beauty and a world of peace. In contrast, Schwartz (1992) presents power values, which include the values ​​of authority, social power, wealth, public image, and social recognition.

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Evaluating the universalism factors listed above versus power values ​​leads to more peaceful behavior in intrapersonal, interpersonal, and intergroup contexts. Because values ​​are difficult to teach, researchers such as Bandura (1986) suggest that students learn values ​​most effectively through modeling processes. This means that when leaders actively live the values ​​of universalism, those who follow them can aspire to live similarly.

Rejection of the rules of revenge

As the name suggests, rejection of norms of revenge is one of the keys to being a peaceful human being, because it is a motive of revenge that people move away from a peaceful life. How do you teach people to stay away from revenge? Teaching the value of forgiveness and problem solving can be an effective approach.

Nelson (2021) notes that teaching people the difference between vengeful goals and problem-solving goals can be helpful in showing them how to peacefully change others who exhibit objectionable behavior. Combine this approach with forgiveness and a peaceful response to conflict can be normalized.

Believe in the effectiveness of peaceful action

Expectations of outcome are crucial when it comes to the keys to being a peaceful human being. Belief in the effectiveness of peaceful actions is one of those expectancies of outcome that affect peaceful living. This belief relates to the expectation that peaceful actions will bring positive results. This belief can be cultivated by exposure to current and historical events that show that peaceful actions make a positive difference in the world compared to violent actions.

hope for peace

Finally, the hope of peace is an important outcome expectancy for people interested in teaching others to live more peaceful lives. The hope for peace mainly depends on the specific expectations or aspirations that each one has for themselves, for others and for groups to become more peaceful.

In conflicts there is often no hope for peace because people form their own reality about the conflict and assumptions about the people involved. However, the enlightenment of hope for peace between people requires opening their reality. This can be accomplished by showing people that everyone is malleable to some degree, even if they believe another person is unable to change. This hope for change can inspire hope for peace, which is usefulparticipate in conflict resolution.


Bandura, A. (1986).Social foundations of thought and action: A social-cognitive theory.Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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Davidson, J.A., & Versluys, M. (1999). Effects of brief training in cooperation and problem solving on success in conflict resolution.Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 5th Edition, 137–148.

Frauenknecht, M. & Black, D.R. (2004). Problem-solving training for children and young people. In E.C. Chang, T.J. D'Zurilla & J.L. Sanna (Eds.),Solving social problems: theory, research and training(S. 153–170). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Jones, T.S. (2004). Conflict Resolution Education: The Field, Discoveries, and the Future.Quarterly Dispute Resolution, 22,233–267.

Lopes, P.N., Salovey, P., & Straus, R. (2003). Emotional intelligence, personality and perceived quality of social relationships.Personality and individual differences, 35, 641–658.

McFarland S, Webb M, & Brown D (2012). All Humanity Is My Endogroup: A Measure and Studies for Identification with All Humanity.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 103, 830–853.

Nelson, L.L. (2021). Identifying determinants of individual peace: a psychological basis for peace education.Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, Aug(2), 109–119.

Nelson LL, Golding NL, Drews DR and Blazina MK. (1995). Teach and evaluate problem solving for international conflict resolution.Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 1st edition, 399–415.

Schonert-Reichl KA, Oberle E, Lawlor MS, Abbott D, Thomson K, Oberlander TF, & Diamond A (2015). Improving cognitive and socio-emotional development through an easy-to-use mindfulness-based school program for elementary school children: a randomized controlled trial.Developmental Psychology, 51, 52–66.

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Schwartz, SH. (1992). Universals in the Context and Construction of Values: Theoretical Advances and Empirical Tests in 20 Countries. In MP Zanna (ed.),Advances in experimental social psychology(Bd.25, pp. 1–65). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.


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