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INTRODUCTIONThe study of psychology is primarily premised on


The study of psychology is primarily premised on the scientific study of the mind, how it works and how it affects human behavior. The prime political emotion is fear which contributes to other emotions such as anger, disgust and envy. Emotions are causally interconnected, with one emotion tending to lead to another. If one habours fear towards someone the natural corollary is they may become angry that they have made them fearful. Management of issues of anger is what then differs because one might seek to reach a rapport with someone who has offended them through talking however someone may see violence as an option.

This paper delves into an analysis of the psychological explanations as to why the Rwandan genocide occurred. That is to say how human beings in their nature caused the genocide; this includes but is not limited to their behaviors lending to the decisions which they made amongst other psychological explanations. Further to that it also seeks to outline the importance of the study of psychology with regards to conflict resolution.

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An understanding of how people behave helps us in coming up with ways of righting someone behavioral wrongs in a bid to quell future violence.


Psychology – is a science which according to James (1910) attempts to investigate the causes of behavior using systematic and objective procedures for observation, measurement and analysis, backed-up by theoretical interpretations, generalizations, explanations and predictions.

Genocide – The United Nations (UN) Convention on Genocide 1948 Article 2 defines genocide as.

“Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

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There are various theories that seek to explain the causes of conflict. However this paper is mainly premised on the psychological theory in explaining the causes of conflict. The Psychological theory contends that people engage in conflict due to a certain psychological orientation as propounded by William James (1842-1910) and most recently by Rummels (1997). These theorists believe that the psychological theory has a number of dimensions: aggression, relative deprivation, misperception, cognitive dissonance, expectations and righteousness.

Firstly Aggression is defined as a disposition, power, or manifestation characterized by assault, attack or invasion. The inward emotion to attack the enemy is provided for by aggression. As Rummel (1997) puts it in saying that aggressive needs add fuel to the process while aggressive attitudes add substance and consequently aggressive temperaments add style.It is the author’s view that aggression gives birth to a predatory instinct in individuals and there is always that emptiness associated with aggression that can only be nipped by a reaction and most cases is negative aggressive behavior.

Secondly relative deprivation is an opinion that an individual has been deprived of something which rightfully belongs to them. For one to get an appreciative view of how it is linked to conflict, relative deprivation is may be aptly understood as a sense of prejudice in comparison with others. This sense of injustice fundamentally defines the class consciousness necessary to the class struggle within all organizations, including the state (Rummel 1997).Selfishness and self centeredness and the emotions which ignite relative deprivation.

Thirdly misperceptions are the mindsets about someone or something that may or may not actually be true. They may motivate conflict, which subsequently can be seen as a revenue for correcting the misperceptions or enabling people to cooperate despite them. Conflict, however, also can result from a real opposition of interests and true perceptions.It all depends on how individuals chose to perceive what ever it is that is at hand.

Fourthly Cognitive dissonance is a state of affairs where the mind does not resonate with the reality. Opposing interests are created by dissonance and as a result provoke the different parties to conflict.

Fifthly expectations are the basis of fulfillment while fulfillment is the basis of judgement. That means that once somebody sets an expectation that is not achieved, they will not be satisfied and therefore will judge negatively. This negative judgment may lead to conflict.This may be equated to instances whereby for example a political party in their party manifesto they state that education will be free if they are voted into power when that is not fulfilled by the party when they are in power may cause conflict.

Finally the feeling of righteousness about how one ought to be treated are basic to understanding conflict and violence at the level of societies. As a central component in the class struggle, righteousness provides a justification for the call of a political formula. Such moral conflicts have been the cause of armed conflict.


According to Mamdani (2002) Rwandans always had their own beliefs and myths about how humanity came to existance; initially they believed in the sacred nature and the origin of human settlement in Rwanda that claimed monarchy originated from a heavenly king nkuba meaning thunder and that nkuba had two sons namely Kigwa and Tutsi and a daughter Nyampundu, the Rwandans believed that the nkuba alongside his wife Nyagasani lived in the heavens above and that one day these three siblings fell from the heavens and landed on the Rwandan Hill and as Kigwa married his sister their descendants were to be the Abanyinginya clan. Mamdani(2002) further posits that as Tutsi their brother married on one of his nieces his descendants were the Abeega clan and these was to be the reason for the intermarriage among these two royal families.Thus there were no ethinical differences in Rwanda.

The second myth was centered on the social differences of the three groups. The myth claimed that the three sons namely Gatwa, Gahutu and Gatutsi went to God and asked for social abilities and the Gatutsi was given anger, Gahutu given disobedience and labour and the Gatwa was given the faculty, gluttony (Mamdani 2002).

The last one claimed the first king of the earth Kigwa tested his three sons’ abilities by giving them milk to keep guide overnight, Gatwa was found to have drank the whole milk, Gahutu to have spilled his milk but the Gatutsi to have kept his milk intact and that is why the Gatutsi was put in higher possible than the two other brothers so that he can ensure that their bad traits are kept in check as alluded to by (Mamdani 2002).

As alluded to above the Tutsi and the Hutu had the same origins though others were put in a position of power over the other but this was justified.It was until the rival colonists arrived in Rwanda with their idea that the Tutsis were to be deemed better than the Hutus because they come from all over that conflicts arose (Mamdani 2002).

Interestingly because of the skin pigmentation difference that was visible within the Hutus and the Tutsis the Manichean allegory was quick to take course and the Hutus being darker were to be deemed as the darkness the bad of things and the Tutsis as the more lighter ones as the light, the ones to be in power and generally the more superior and to be regarded as foreigners in the Rwandan society and put in position of power and the Hutus to be the Negros that are to be slaves to the Tutsis and consequently fall victim under their regime (Mamdani 2002).This type of setup fuelled aggression as the Hutu was initially had been at par with the Tutsis found themselves subjects of the Tutsis working in coffee plantation which they believed belonged to them as equal Rwandan nationals.

Meredith (2002) posits that Rwanda was generally a place full of supernatural beauty that was tacked away in the heart of Africa, Rwanda was among others an encouragement for the some writing material. It was a tourist attraction and as such its economy was just on the rise, between the 1956 and 1989 inflation rates were low, there was a high number of school enrolment and health facility were of good standards, their main export being coffee, most rural households were involved in coffee production as enunciated by Meredith (2002) even though they were these highly positive aspects to Rwanda the politics of the country were still being ran by the Tutsi and for this reason the Tutsis were being recognized as the enemy of the country (Meredith 2002). because they were been said not to originate from but this notion was not the reason why they were killed these was just a long standing ethnic ideology that has long been standing but has commonly been the scapegoat at the dispose of both the Tutsis and the Hutus whenever there .

Even though Rwanda was a place of beauty and all, during the time that President Kayibanda was the leader the government was about to collapse because of the great disagreements that were among the government (Meredith 2002). Among the other issues the most highlighted was that President Kayibanda favored the southern Hutu clan more than he favored the other Hutu clans of Rwanda because he himself was from the south of Rwanda ( Meredith 2002). So when the Tutsis that were exiled into neighboring countries formed insurgent groups called the inyenzi (cockroach) that had a sole intention of restoring the Tutsi monarchy attacked a military camp and were heading for the country’s capital Kayibanda took this act as his opportunity to crush the Tutsi (Meredith 2002) and send out his hate speeches of how the Tutsis wanted to run Rwanda once more ( Meredith 2002).

The Role of the Electronic Media in Promoting Violence

It is quite clear that for an individual to behavior in a particular manner there is a need to ignite a certain feeling and it goes without say that the media plays a pivotal role in planting certain ideas into people and it is advantageous in that it reaches large amounts of people at the same time and that effect is the stirring up of consistent emotions which in most cases results in violence depending on the content of the message.

The role of public radio in spreading the dogma that promoted genocide (des Forges 2007), along with express support to partake in violent behavior, is of course infamous. The genocide therefore provides an early forerunner of the mobilization of mass action through electronic means ( McGarty et al., 2014).Hate media played an intergral part in mobilizing the Hutus to attack the Tutsis on the one hand the Hutus felt a certain thirst for continued power and believed Rwanda belonged to them on the other hand the Tutsi felt Rwanda was their home and they yummed to return home.

Hate propaganda in print, and on hate radios was used to denigrate the Tutsis. Tutsis were termed “Inyenzi” means cockroaches, “Inzoka” means Snakes, the Rwandan politicians used to tell the Hutus that” kill that snakes and cockroaches whether they are adult or kids because they are nothing but the parasites”, and also to kill the Tutsis were called “bush clearing”. This phase which has been noted as one of the main aspects that leads to conflict that is the dehumanization stage. All these genocidal languages/ideologies used by politicians boosted the engagement of Hutu people in mass killing. The hate propaganda was spread by using Newspapers like: Kangura means “wake them up”, Kanguka means”wake up”, and public broadcasters like RTLM (Radio television libre des mille collines).This can also be seen in the brutality of the attacks babies were crushed against the wall, pregnant women’s stomaches were ripped open.

According to Thompson (2007) throughout the overwhelming genocide in Rwanda, the media in Rwanda had a key role in producing and maintaining an atmosphere which validated the massacre that took place. Rwandan media’s promotion of hatred for Tutsis was magnified; the view that genocide of Tutsis would be the answer for the ethnic issues within Rwanda. Hutus who were once oppressed during the colonization had in essence attempted to be set free by becoming the oppressors themselves (Rummels 1997).

It is of paramount importance to note that in as much as the media may be used as a tool to fuel violent emotions it may also be used to bring about peace by advocating for peace and reconciliation. The relevance of the study of psychology in this regard helps to make one understand that people’s emotions may be manipulated and it would do us good to manipulate emotions for the betterment of society so that conflicts are quelled.

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INTRODUCTIONThe study of psychology is primarily premised on. (2019, Dec 20). Retrieved from

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