top of page

Modern Peacebuilding and Nonviolence (Part III) Next Step: Scientific Measurement of Peacefulness

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

by David Kirshbaum (2018)

Next Step: Scientific Measurement of Peacefulness

Scientists have been analyzing human society for decades and have developed numbers of tests that have been proven to be very accurate and reliable and valid.

These tests are now being used to measure peacefulness and can thus generate a complex profile of the subject group which then can guide efforts to improve the group functioning.

This is based on the connection between peacefulness and functioning that has become a generally accepted axiom at the United Nations, that long-term peacefulness, long-term development and prosperity for all, and justice are all interrelated and interdependent - you cannot have one without the other two.

The two most important scientific measurements of peacefulness have been developed by the Institute of Economics and Peace in Australia (IEP) (30), who measures socio-economic factors for peacefulness, and the Barrett Value Centre (31) (in partnership with Nonviolence International-New York(32)) whom have developed a measurement of the culture of peace.

Galtung spoke of his ideas about violence and peace that they could be a form of therapy for society because of how they could be used to guide society to more peaceful functioning, which would then help with general functioning (33). The scientific measurement of peacefulness thus could fit into that framework very easily helping with assessment and diagnosis to thus enhance the effectiveness of the treatment.

Socio-Economic Measurement of Peacefulness

IEP has taken 24 well-established tests of socio-economic factors and have combined them into a single test that measures the socio-economic factors leading to peacefulness. This test is called the Positive Peace Index (34), and they have used it to measure 163 countries worldwide, and have applied it more in-depth to 6. The test results take the form of an in-depth socio-economic profile of the organization’s peacefulness through the complex relations of 8 socio-economic factors:

  • Well-Functioning Government

  • Sound Business Environment

  • Equitable Distribution of Resources

  • Free Flow of Information

  • Good Relations with Neighbors

  • High Level of Human Capital

  • Acceptance of the Rights of Others

  • Low Levels of Corruption

I highly recommend visiting the IEP website so that you can read more in-depth about their methodology and results. Their website can be found at:

The Positive Peace Index can be found at:

In fact I recommend reading the entire report section of which the Positive Peace Index is only a part:

Measuring Cultures of Peace

In turn, the Barrett Value Centre (BVC - has been measuring group cultures since 1989. In 2019 they joined with Nonviolence International (NVI-NY - to develop a version of their test for measuring the culture of peace within a given organization. Based on this cultural measurement a complex profile of the peacefulness of the organization is then developed which can then be used to improve the inner peacefulness of the organization, and thus in turn their functioning.

Barrett’s methodology is based on the connection between cultures and their values. Analysis of values has been highly developed by scientists, and the Barrett Value Centre uses that science to then analyze the culture of organizations, and now including their peacefulness, to help them function better.

The Barrett assessment collects data on the self-declared values of a statistically significant percentage of the group’s members, including

  • The members’ personal values,

  • What values they see being acted upon in the organization currently,

  • What values they wish were being acted upon in their organization,

  • What values of a culture of peace they see in operation in their organization.

The values of the culture of peace are gathered from in-depth analysis of UN Resolution 53/243 by both BVC and NVI-NY staff. Here they are distributed across Barrett’s 7 levels of cultural development:


bottom of page