Niconchuk, M., Guinote, A., & Harris, L. (2017, in preparation). “The Importance of Subjective Belonging: Social Cognitive and Hormonal Correlates of Male Syrians’ Survival Strategy in a Refugee Camp.”

Abstract: This study interrogated the role of subjective group belonging as a possible moderator of the relationship between powerlessness and victimhood, on the one hand, and aggression and dehumanization, on the other, among male Syrian refugees living in a refugee camp on the Jordanian-Syrian border (n=41; ages 22-32). Furthermore, we assessed the relationship between refugees’ stress hormone levels, specifically cortisol (n=36) and testosterone (n=32) and perceptions of belonging, reported aggression, and the dehumanization of specific in- and out-groups.


Niconchuk, M. (2017, forthcoming). “Towards a Meaningful Integration of Brain Science Research in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) Programing.” in Zeiger, S. (Ed.) Expanding Research on Countering Violent Extremism. Abu Dhabi: Hedayah Center.

Abstract: Across regions working on preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE), governments, law enforcement, and civil society actors are looking for new paradigms to understand and address the allure of violent extremist groups and young people’s participation in these groups. While many current P/CVE approaches appreciate the importance of psychological push and pull factors, few have found a way to operationalize current research from brain science, or to design programs informed by this research. This article tackles the challenge of translating social psychology and neuroscience research on violent extremism into practice, first by reviewing key lines of current research including social identity and identity threats, sacred values, intergroup dynamics, and dehumanization, and then providing concrete recommendations for more efficient and accessible translation of research into program design and evaluation.


MacPhail, J., Niconchuk, M., & El-wer, N. (2017, forthcoming) “Conflict, the Brain, and Community: A Neurobiology-Informed Approach to Resilience and Community Development” in R. Phillips, S. Kenny, & B. McGrath (Eds.) Handbook of Community Development. Routledge Press.

Abstract: Whether due to violent conflict, displacement, or poverty, many communities across the world are living under profound stress. In this chapter, the authors explore the impacts of profound stress from the neural to the behavioral level, from the individual to the community, investigating how stress impacts community development and can often lead to antisocial behaviors such as violence and inter-group conflict that severely reduce the space for collective, pro-social action. Drawing on years of experience in conflict and post-conflict communities in the Middle East, the authors integrate critical questions of tribalism, displacement, and culture, ultimately arguing that community development efforts are made stronger by an understanding of profound stress in communities and individuals, and that community development efforts should take account of the science of stress, trauma, and resilience.

Available here.