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Department of Psychology

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Sara has a background in dance. Her PhD thesis at (formerly called) Dept of Social and Political Sciences (University of Cambridge) laid the foundations for her research into the cognitive and social dynamics involved in fundamentalism, extremisms and worldview clash. She was Senior Research Associate in the Psychology and Religion Research Group, University of Cambridge for 15 years.

Sara is co-Director with IC Thinking (Cambridge) Ltd:

Dr David Good is the PI to current IC Thinking research projects.


My research focuses on preventing violent extremism, sectarianism and inter-group conflict through evidence-based programmes that operationalise and measure the construct of Integrative Complexity (IC, Suedfeld & Tetlock 2014). With my colleagues (Dr Eolene Boyd-MacMillan, Dr Jose Liht, and others), our interventions have been piloted in a range of countries and cultural contexts, for ages 11 through adulthood, in schools, colleges, communities and prevention professionals such as police, supported by continual empirical assessment. Our approach is multi-disciplinary and multi-media, and includes social neuroscience as well as the cognitive, social and political dimensions of conflict. Our next stage of work includes collaboration with Prof Atta Badii’s Intelligent Systems Research Laboratory, Univ of Reading, with the aim of digitizing IC interventions for schools curricula, professional training and internet.


Key publications: 

Savage, S., Khan, A. & Liht, J. (2014). “Preventing Violent Extremism through Value Complexity: Being Kenyan Being Muslim,” Journal of Strategic Security Vol 7 (3) 2.

 Savage, S. & Liht, J. (2013) Prevention of violent extremism based on promoting value complexity, informed by neuroscience and deployed on the Internet (pp 69-83). In  Dr. Hriar Cabayan (JS/J-39), Dr. Valerie Sitterle (GTRI), and LTC Matt Yandura (JS/J-39)  (Eds)  Looking Back, Looking Forward: Perspectives on Terrorism and Responses to It , Strategic Multi-layer Assessment  White Paper, Pentagon, September 2013.

 Savage, S. (2013) Head and heart in preventing religious radicalization. In F Watts and G Dumbreck (Eds) Head and Heart: Perspectives from Religion and Psychology, Templeton Press.

Liht, J. & Savage, S. (2013) Preventing violent extremism through value complexity: Being Muslim Being British, Journal of Strategic Security, Vol. 6, No. 4, 2013 (November).

Savage, S. (2011) Four Lessons from the Study of Fundamentalism and Psychology of Religion. Journal of Strategic Security Volume 4 Issue 4 2011, pp. 131-150.

 Liht, J., Conway, L. G., Savage, S., White, W., & O’Neill, K. A. (2012). Religious fundamentalism: An empirically derived construct and multi-cultural measurement scale. Archive for the Psychology of Religion.

 Savage, S, Liht, J & Williams, R (2011) ‘Being Muslim Being British: preventing extremist violence through raising Integrative Complexity’. In M. Sharpe and F. Gere (Ed) The Intangibles of Security, NATO publication, IOS Press, NL.

Liht, J & Savage, S (2011) Being Muslim Being British: A multi-media educational resource for young Muslims in G. Joffe (Ed) Radicalisation, IB Tauris.

 Savage, S. & Boyd-MacMillan, E. (2010) Conflict in Relationships: understand it, overcome it, Oxford: Lion/ Hudson Publishers.

 Savage, S. (2008) Towards integrative solutions to moral disputes between conservative and liberal Christians, The Journal of Psychology and Christianity (special edition 2008).

 Savage, S. & Liht, J. (2008) Radical religious speech: how to assemble the ingredients of a binary world view in (J. Weinstein, ed) Extreme Speech and Democracy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Boyd-Macmillan, E., Savage, S., & Liht, J. (2008) Conflict transformation among senior church leaders with differing theological stances, London: Foundation for Church Leadership.

 Savage, S. & Liht, J. (2008) Mapping fundamentalisms: the psychology of religion as a sub-discipline in the prevention of religiously motivated violence (K. Helmut Reich & Peter C. Hill, eds) Quo Vadis Psychology of Religion? Introduction to the Special Section, The Archive for the Psychology of Religion, The International Association for the Psychology of Religion.

Senior Research Associate

Contact Details

Collaborator profiles: 
Person keywords: 
conflict detection/resolution
neuroscience in education
social Neuroscience
social psychology
Takes PhD students
Not available for consultancy