Cognitive-Affective Mapping and Digital Peacebuilding




Hoffman, Evan A.

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Toda Peace Institute


Ideologies play a fundamental role in the emergence, escalation and resolution of conflict by underpinning divergent narratives and worldviews. These ideologies are often developed and sustained through a combination of interrelated and deeply-held core beliefs, values and emotions which have been acquired over the course of a lifetime and become reinforced through several cognitive processes and biases. Thus, it can be very difficult to alter or change ideologies once they have been formed. Yet, despite their central importance to conflict resolution, practitioners still need the proper tools to adequately visualise these complex ideologies in individuals and/or groups. Practitioners also have very few examples of ways to work with these divergent ideologies as part of a larger peacebuilding process. This policy brief presents a technique for visualising ideologies using a new software tool called Valence that enables technology-assisted Cognitive Affective Mapping (CAM). It then offers lessons from a recent online conflict resolution exercise in which multiple stakeholders used this tool in an ongoing water conflict in Canada via a series of facilitated Zoom sessions held in 2020.



Conflict Analysis, Cognitive Mapping