PSYOPS: The Psychology of Political Struggle

PSYOPS: The Psychology of Political Struggle
Photo: AK Rockefeller / Creative Commons / Flickr
Led by Inger Skjelsbæk
Jan 2017 - Dec 2018

The seminar series PSYOPS: The Psychology of Political Struggle is organized jointly by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Department of Psychology, University of Oslo & Psychology Students Without Borders (PUG).



Apr 09: Understanding Extremism

  • What makes an individual become an extremist? 
  • What is extremism? 
  • Why would people eradicate themselves and submit to an authoritarian collective?
This seminar will discuss how to understand extremism, how it occurs, and why a person would join an extremist group. Alan Fiske and Henrik Syse will speak at this seminar.


Sep 22: Making Sense of Sexual War Violence

  • How can sexual violence in war be studied from a political-psychological perspective? 
  • What do perpetrators present as the causal factors for their crimes? 
  • How, according to them, could the crime take place? 
To shed light on a topic that sadly never seems to lose relevance, we have invited two brilliant researchers; Inger Sjelsbæk and Anette Bringedal Houge.

May 9: Trauma, Peace and Development: The Importance of Psychological Insight

  • Ragnhild Dybdahl - Psychologist/Associate Professor at the Oslo and Akershus University College (HiOA) talked about how psykological knowledge on trauma can be utilized to promote health, peace and development

April 6: The Conflict in South-Sudan: A Closer Look at Social Identities and Psychological Fieldwork.

  • Fanny Nicolaisen (research assistant, PRIO) presented an update on the current situation in South Sudan
  • Sigrun Marie Moss  (Associate Professor – Department of Psychology UiO) talked about social identities in Sudan, and processes before the separation of the country - why it was separated in accordance with identities
  • Kay Oxholm – Psychologist with the Doctors Without Borders - talked about experiences from his psychological fieldwork in 2014, and how psychologists work in the field, as well as psychological consequences of the conflict.
  • The event was recorded

March 9: Migration and Psychology: Research on Migration and Clinical Work with Refugees

This seminar presented research and work with migration issues and refugees. Among the topics was how we can look at migration issues in a larger context, and treatment of refugees who have been subjected to torture. The major refugee crisis in recent times makes this a very topical and important theme.

  • Jørgen Carling, Research Professor at PRIO talked about "Migration as a research field, and awareness of broader migration themes".
  • Nora Sveaass, Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology, UiO talked about "Work with refugees and the treatment of refugees who have been subjected to torture and other abuses".

February 14: Donald Trump: A Cautionary Tale of Leadership and the Threat to Democracy

Donald Trump is now in office as the 45th President of the United States - this despite what many commentators describe as his misogyny, his racism, his crudity, his tendency to break every rule of political decorum, and against the expectations of nearly every commentator. How did this happen? What is the secret of Trump’s success?

  • The main speaker was Professor Stephen Reicher, University of St Andrews and comments were made by Professor Scott Gates, University of Oslo & PRIO.

  • Introductions were held by Inger Skjelsbæk, University of Oslo & PRIO and Øyunn Sofie Fencl, Students Without Borders (Chair).