Author Biography

Dr Eolene Boyd-MacMillan, Senior Research Associate, Co-Director of the IC Thinking Group, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge. For over a decade, Eolene has developed and evaluated cognitive complexity interventions to reduce and prevent destructive conflict through participatory research and end-user partnerships in diverse communities, using the cross-culturally validated measure, integrative complexity (IC) (Suedfeld and Tetlock, 2014). Ms Patricia Andrews Fearon, Ms Amanda Ptolomey, and Ms Laura Mathieson, IC Thinking Team members, develop, deliver, and assess IC Thinking interventions through community and organisational partnerships. Patricia, Masters in religious extremism, is completing a post-baccalaureate in psychology, University of California Berkeley, while working in the Berkeley Emotion and Emotion Regulation Lab. Amanda and Laura are a community development practitioner with Inverclyde Community Development Trust (Scotland). Amanda is completing her Masters in citizenship and human rights, Glasgow Caledonian University. Laura is completing her Masters in education (community learning and development), University of Glasgow.



Subject Area Keywords

Civil affairs, Civil war and internal conflict, Europe and EU, Identity, Methodology, Psychology, Religious violence, Violent extremism


We developed and tested through two studies a new intervention run as a course, I SEE! Scotland, to reduce and prevent Protestant-Catholic sectarianism in Scotland, a historic inter-group conflict expressed in forms ranging from polite to violent, within a wider population that includes those who feel untouched. Designed to reflect the social ecology of Scotland and engage individuals regardless of sectarian involvement, the intervention aimed to increase cognitive complexity, measured as integrative complexity, through participatory theatre and experiential methods. We hypothesised that the confluence of experiential learning to support multiple forms of self, other, and systems awareness with narrative framing would increase integrative complexity management capacities. Tested with a diverse sample of 104 participants (secondary school staff; achieving, disruptive or vulnerable students; young adults returning to education; other professionals; prisoners; recovering drug addicts; unemployed), study one pre-post comparisons showed significant integrative complexity gains that cohered with second end of intervention integrative complexity measures, replicating results from other integrative complexity interventions despite differences in samples, conflicts, and context. Study two with twenty-eight of the one hundred and four participants showed significant pre post increases in resilience. These results predict peaceful outcomes to intergroup conflict, tackling sectarianism and promoting community psychosocial health. We note future research plans.


This research was funded with three grants from the Scottish Government, Justice Directorate, Community Safety Unit, “Tackling Sectarianism Programme,” (2012-2015). With thanks to Dr Sara Savage and Dr Jose Liht for contributions to theory, design, and assessments, to Mr Simon Pellew for contributions to statistical analyses, to Dr Anna Kennedy for contributions to intervention materials design/ production, delivery, and assessments, to Mr Tim Watson, Ms Mollie Paterson, Mr Bill Sharp, Ms Lesley Paton, and Ms Emma Dempsey for contributions to delivery, and to Mr Christopher Arnot, Manager, Research Tools, Cambridge University Technical Services, for expert grant management. Finally, thank you to the organisations and communities across Scotland whose representatives participated in this research. And thank you to the anonymous reviewers engaged by the Journal of Strategic Security.