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Increasing Cognitive Complexity and Collaboration Across Communities: Being Muslim Being Scottish
Dr Eolene Boyd-MacMillan is Senior Research Associate and Co-Director of the IC Thinking Group, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge. For the past decade, Eolene has been involved in reducing and preventing destructive conflict through the development and empirical evaluation of cognitive complexity interventions. Using the concept and cross-culturally validated measurement frame of integrative complexity (IC) with predictive values (Suedfeld and Tetlock, 2014), she aims to advance understanding of the mechanisms involved in and effects of increasing cognitive complexity management capacities through participatory action research and end-user partnerships in diverse communities.
Subject Area Keywords
Identity, Ideology, Radicalization, Terrorism / counterterrorism, Violent extremism
Being Muslim Being Scottish (BMBS) joins a family of IC interventions, Being Muslim Being British (BMBB) and Being Kenyan Being Muslim (BKBM). Like BMBB and BKBM, the newest family member, BMBS, is designed to increase cognitive complexity management by enabling participants to identify and access a wider range of their own values (value pluralism). Increased cognitive management capacities enable movement from rapid, inflexible, closed, black and white thinking that sees no validity in other viewpoints toward more deliberate, flexible, open thinking that can tolerate shades of grey, and see validity in other viewpoints without sacrificing one’s core values. Piloted in a large city in Scotland with a new model of participant involvement, participants represented both safeguarding practitioner and Muslim communities. Evaluated using the cross-culturally validated integrative complexity empirical measurement frame, statistical analyses showed significant gains in complex thinking about participants’ self-identified in and outgroups. These results predict more peaceful outcomes to intra- and inter-group conflict as participants recognize and access a wider range of responses choices in the face of difference and disagreement. Qualitative analyses found increased awareness of risks to radicalization, confidence to discuss controversial and sensitive topics, and communication among diverse communities for effective safeguarding. While these pilot results indicate that BMBS is effective at reducing violent extremism through increased integrative complexity management capacities and structured cross community-learning, further research is suggested.
With thanks to Dr. Sara Savage and Dr. Jose Liht for theoretical background, to Dr. Savage and Mr. Simon Pellew for contributions to the assessments, and to Mr. Anjum Kahn for engagement with involved communities and facilitation.
Boyd-MacMillan, Eolene M.. "Increasing Cognitive Complexity and Collaboration Across Communities: Being Muslim Being Scottish." Journal of Strategic Security 9, no. 4 (2016)
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usf.edu/jss/vol9/iss4/6