Conflict and Violence: the Whys and the Therefores

Speaker: Categories: Aug 10, 1991


[1hr, 12min / 38min, 19sec]


It seems that today almost any television or radio newscast, almost any newspaper, almost any news magazine most assuredly will report to its audience some form of rampant violence. Bizarre dismemberment of bodies, mutilation and disfigurement of persons who, but moments before, were intimate friends cause us, the onlookers, to be bewildered by the perverseness of humankind. And we wonder, are these more frequent aberrations of human behavior the signs of the last days or are the news media just more aggressive (and brazen) in reporting all the gory details?

Our topic for August will address these concerns based on a recently developed theoretical model and the empirical evidence from the last few years of research. The psychological aspects of conflict and violence will be explored looking at the cognitive processes and emotional states involved in such behavior.

In addition to an examination of the acts of violence and their perpetrators, Dr. Betancourt indicates that he will also explore the ways in which persons respond and react to such violence. He will help to identify the factors which cause such reactions and, in particular, look at the biases and discrepancies in the perception of and reactions to conflict and violence associated with group identification (e. g., ethnic, national, political, or religious.).


Dr. Betancourt completed his baccalaureate work at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile in 1976. He earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles, 1979-1983.

An associate professor currently serving as chairperson of the Department of Psychology at La Sierra University (LSU). he joined that faculty in 1985 after previously serving as professor at his alma mater in Chile.

He has received numerous awards for his scholarship including the Faculty Award for outstanding contribution to student research in psychology at Loma Linda University (1989); Fulbright Fellow; UCLA (1979-1980); and the Rotary Foundation Award for International Understanding. Georgia Southern College (1976-1977).

Hector Betancourt has been called upon frequently throughout Latin America to serve as a consultant in cross-cultural and cognitive psychological processes, particularly as this latter relates to conflict and violence.

He has received numerous research grants, is active in a variety of professional associations in psychology, and has more than twenty papers published or in the manuscript preparation stage. He is a frequent presenter at professional association meetings with nearly thirty papers read in the last eight years! Without question, he is well-informed and knowledgeable. His research is current. He has a keen interest in this particular topic, an interest which he will share with us on August 10. He made a similar presentation to the L.A. Chapter in June.

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