IT IS SCIENTIFICALLY INCORRECT to say that war is caused by "instinct" or any single motivation. The emergence of modern warfare has been a journey from the primacy of emotional and motivational factors, sometimes called "instincts," to the primacy of cognitive factors. Modern war involves institutional use of personal characteristics such as obedience, suggestibility, and idealism, social skills such as language, and rational considerations such as cost-calculation, planning, and information processing. The technology of modern war has exaggerated traits associated with violence both in the training of actual combatants and in the preparation of support for war in the general population. As a result of this exaggeration, such traits are often mistaken to be the causes rather than the consequences of the process.


To understand something as complicated as modern warfare, it is necessary to take a multi-level approach. One must consider the differences between the nature and causes of actions at different levels of complexity, from the individual to the group to the society and state. For this reason, the meeting at Seville included scientists who study at all these levels, including individual psychologists, social psychologists, and sociologists.

The behavior of soldiers in modern war has little to do with their aggressiveness. This has been pointed out by animal behavior specialist Robert Hinde and social psychologist Jo Groebel who took part in drafting the Seville Statement: "The institution of war prescribes a variety of roles, each with its attendant rights and duties. Politicians, generals, soldiers, munition workers perform their allotted tasks, carrying out their duties with little contribution from their aggressive propensities. This is true even of the combatants, for whom cooperation and buddy-relationships, obedience, and fear may be more important than aggression."

When nations prepare for war, they employ the mass media in propaganda campaigns to produce fear and anger against the enemy. Propaganda exploits the fear and anger that every person experiences at one time or another. However, as Seville signatory and psychologist Riitta Wahlström has shown in her studies, the enemy image is an artificial construction rather than a constant human trait. For example, in Finland at the present time, people do not have an enemy image. Furthermore, the capacity of the human mind is so great that we can have a global loyalty at the same time as we identify with our nationality, ethnic group, and family.