About ICthinking®.


What is IC?
IC - Integrative Complexity - is a measure of how black-and-white someone's thinking is.

IC 1
If we are threatened, our brain narrows its focus.  Exactly the same happens if something precious to us, such as our deepest values, are threatened.  With this narrowing down, we become more likely to use violence to defend ourselves and our values.

However, the black-and-white thinking can be made more complex, if people understand their own "in group" has a range of viewpoints, not just a single "right" perspective.  And, this complexity spills over into an understanding that the "out group", however it is defined for someone, can also be more complex - they aren't all bad.

With this reduced black-and-white thinking, a person is less likely to resort to violence.


ICthinking® is a research group at the heart of an international movement offering resources and interventions to communities and organisations torn apart by conflict arising from change and worldview clash. Our idea is a simple one that works. We provide bespoke empirically validated courses that equip people to engage positively, creatively, and collaboratively with conflict. Through experiential group exercises that work with brain processes at a deep level, participants undergo robust, measurable and enduring shifts away from destructive - and even violent - reactions towards achieving win-win solutions that work for the common good.

Our vision is for every community to be equipped with the resources for engaging positively with difference in an ever more complex world. Working together with those who share our ideas, we believe there is no good reason why this vision cannot be realised.


The work began in 2006 in the Psychology and Religion Research Group, University of Cambridge (directed by Dr Fraser Watts), as Dr Sara Savage, Dr Eolene Boyd-MacMillan, Dr Jose Liht, and Mr Anjum Khan sought ways to meet the needs of different communities torn apart by conflict. We worked with conflicts among, for example, liberal versus conservative Christians, young Muslims struggling to adjust to British culture, and Catholics and Protestants locked in sectarian opposition in Scotland. Divisions between rich and poor, men and women, science and religion, liberals and conservatives, were all part of the conflicts that people dreamt of overcoming.

Ongoing research and development by the team led to the founding of ICthinking® in 2011 following the success of the Being Muslim Being British project. It has expanded from our initial working with thirty-one senior church leaders (bishops and equivalents) to working with several hundred diverse communities throughout Great Britain and spanning the waters to Central America, Africa, Asia, and Europe, including aid and developmental, educational, professional and health organisations. ICthinking® is an internationally trademarked intervention and educational method.

Research base

Our work is named after Professor Peter Suedfeld’s (2006, 2010) concept of ‘Integrative Complexity’, which analyses the less than conscious deep structure of thinking as people engage with difference, disagreement, and opposition. IC concerns the HOW of thinking, not WHAT people think. Decades of empirical research by Peter Suedfeld and colleagues evidences that when the IC of parties to conflict drops from its recent baseline, conflict and even violence intensifies, and when IC rises, pro social solutions to conflict become possible (See Suedfeld et al 2006, Suedfeld 2010).

We are the first psychologists to develop the elements of Integrative Complexity into an empirically validated intervention that produces consistent, empirically replicated results: increasing the complexity with which people view the world, an increase that promotes pro-social conflict resolution. Course participants develop skills to see a range of viewpoints and maximize a wider array of their own values, thus maintaining integrity while engaging with difference. We continue to undertake cutting edge research, for example, developing IC for the Internet and understanding the neurological impact of our IC courses through neuroscience studies.

For more on our research see our research base.


Our funding comes from government departments, research funding bodies, charities, donations and gifts-in-kind (such as volunteers who work on projects free of charge).  We seek funding for ongoing research as well as supporting ICthinking® work in less resourced contexts. As a result of the commitment of our colleagues, funders, partners, participants and supporters, hundreds of people who otherwise might be continuing in destructive conflict are now working hard to build societies for human flourishing.

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