Research base


The ICthinking® research team is based at the Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge with Dr David Good as Principal Investigator.

Built on pioneering work by psychologists at the University of Cambridge, ICthinking® uses Prof. Peter Suedfeld’s (2010) construct of Integrative Complexity (IC) examining the structure of thinking as people engage with difference, disagreement, or opposition. Four decades of cross-cultural research by Suedfeld and colleagues shows that when IC drops from its recent baseline, conflict is predicted. When IC rises, peaceful solutions to real world conflicts ensue. (See Suedfeld articles below.)

ICthinking® courses are empirically validated. Course participants develop the cognitive skills and social intelligence to see a range of viewpoints and dimensions of a conflict while maximizing a wider array of their own values, thus maintaining integrity while engaging with difference. They are enabled to maximize a wider spread of their own values. This enhances their ability to perceive shared values and linkages among differing viewpoints, and to pursue win/ win solutions to conflict.

Through carefully designed group exercises, ICthinking® courses dissolve false binaries that support obstacles to negotiation, without threatening a party’s important values, enabling each party to move to the next stage of practical conflict resolution.

All IC course have undergone empirical testing

Using non-fakable IC coding (analyzing the structure of thinking, which is held below consciousness) courses are examined by comparing participants’ reasoning before the course (pre-testing) and after the course (post testing). IC coding is a reliable assessment framework backed by a decades’ long track record of cross-cultural research (see Suedfeld 2010). We also analyse the spread of values pre and post the course, as well as conflict styles. 

Download the empirical assessment journal article:

“Preventing violent extremism through value complexity: Being Muslim Being British”

After a 16 contact hour IC course (with 12-16 participants per group), analysis shows that

  • participants emerge from black and white ‘tunnel vision’ and polarised thinking (IC score 1, out of 1-7)
  • able to perceive some validity in opposing viewpoints (IC score 3)
  • equipped to pursue win/win solutions even with those they oppose
  • leading to enhanced social cohesion in our dangerously ‘balkanized’ global context.

Over the lifespan, IC scores normally increases by only one gradation (e.g., from IC score .5 to 1.5). Research with USA university graduates shows that after four years most university students graduate with an IC score of 2 after four years.

With the ICthinking® method over just 16 contact hours, our ICthinking® courses raise IC scores to 3, across three very different cultural groups:

  • young British Muslims vulnerable to extremism in BMBB,
  • middle aged Scottish males in I SEE! Scotland, (age range 24-65)
  • bishops and religious leaders of different faiths in Conflict Transformation.

These findings illustrate the robustness and precision of the ICthinking® method. See charts of results below.

IC and neuroscience

Conflict is visceral. You feel it in your body often before you know a conflict is brewing or even in full swing. From the very beginning of our work, we have paid attention to the body and the brain. All our experience is mediated by our brain structures, functions, and processes, and played out in our bodies, thoughts and feelings.

Proposals have been invited by funders to support our collaborative work with top neuroscientists to examine the effects of ICthinking® courses on brain processes that underpin complex thinking and valuing in the face of conflict. This is pioneering research that we are looking forward to sharing, so watch this space for updates. (If you would like to be known as someone who invested in this pioneering research, please get in touch!)

ICthinking ® Research Group publications >