Science behind family arguments 'can solve damaging disputes'

Written by Tom Freeman on 17 January 2018 in News

The 'Emotional Homunculus', a web-based conflict resolution resource, launched at SCCR conference

Conflict resolution - Adobe

A new digital resource to explain why family arguments can be so damaging to prospects and life chances has been launched today at a major conference in Glasgow.

The online resource guides users through the cognitive science behind emotional states and the impact of conflict on them.

It has been created by the Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution (SCCR) and unveiled at its annual conference at the Glasgow Science Centre.

Family conflict has been shown to contribute to homelessness and poor mental health, particularly among young people. It can also impact on the brain development of children in the early years.

According to the Cyrenians charity, which runs the SCCR, 4,450 young people become homeless due to family relationship breakdown every year, making it the biggest single cause of youth homelessness.

The web resource aims to provide families and those supporting them with an understanding of the science behind arguments.

"Ever get the feeling that your body has a mind of its own?" the website asks users.

"Meet your emotional homunculus, the part of the brain that uses feelings and emotions to decide how we will act and react."

It is hoped the resource will reduce stigma around asking for help.

SCCR network development manager, Diane Marr, said the concept represented a "map" of how individuals connect with the world around them.

“We wanted to bring this concept alive and create a resource that could be used freely, across Scotland, and indeed across the world, by anyone to better understand their inner being, their triggers and responses and how these can all fuel conflict.

"By better understanding how we end up in arguments, what our responses are, and how we can conquer conflict, we can have better relationships, reduce stress, and in particular, work towards supporting young people and families, and reducing youth homelessness.

"These creative and innovative solutions to providing support to people and professionals in a digital age are the future.”

Speakers at the event include Minister for Childcare and Early Years Maree Todd, the Scottish Government's emergency medicine advisor Dr David Caesar and representatives of the Violence Reduction Unit.

Ahead of the event Todd said: “We want Scotland to be the best place to grow up, and are committed to ensuring all children get the best start in life. Supporting families is key to this, and helping them to deal with conflict is crucial to enabling them to flourish.   

“I commend the Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution for developing high-quality, innovative resources, and making them freely available. I have no doubt these valuable digital tools will help families across Scotland deal with conflict and form nurturing relationships. And I am pleased to confirm that we will continue provide core funding to the charity into 2018-19.”

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