WHEN you think of where ‘science’ happens, you’re possibly picturing a lab where white-coated people peer into microscopes. You’re probably not thinking of a messy bedroom of the sort that triggers arguments between young people and parents. But science is very much involved – the science of conflict.

A new mini exhibition currently on show at Glasgow Science Centre focuses on the science of conflict – and how families can calm rows when they turn serious.

The mini exhibition showcases the work of Cyrenians’ Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution (SCCR). Cyrenians’ aim is to tackle the causes and consequences of homelessness. Knowing that there are many ways people can become homeless, Cyrenians runs services that come at homelessness from different angles.

The mission of one such service, the SCCR, is to prevent youth homelessness. Each year in Scotland, 5000 young people present as homeless, which is a number close to equalling five high schools worth of children. Just think of that! The most common reason young people give for why they’ve left home is relationship breakdown.

With a focus on conflict resolution, mediation and early intervention work, SCCR gives young people and their families the skills to end arguments amicably through tips and techniques freely available on their website and through events in schools, in the community, and online. With events ranging in length, places on them can be reserved via the SCCR website.

When parents and carers and young people know a little about the science of conflict, when they can see their arguments as part of a developmental cycle all people go through, it tends to take some heat out of the situation.

With the help of scientists, filmmakers, web developers and illustrators, the SCCR has over the past near-decade made a series of eye-catching digital resources which view the science of conflict in a quirky and easy-to-understand way. They can be found on the SCCR’s website if you click on its Brainy Stuff tab.

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Take, for example, Cranial Cocktail, which was inspired by Glasgow Science Centre’s ‘cortical homunculus’ display. The word homunculus literally translates from the Latin as little man, but here refers to our inner human.

Cranial Cocktail offers people the chance to meet their emotional homunculus, the part of the brain that uses feelings and emotions to decide how we will act and react. It illustrates a number of emotional states – ‘anxious and afraid’, ‘freeze and shutdown’ – by showing how they physically affect the body – so that, for example, when we feel the fight or flight emotion, our body prioritises the legs, arms, heart and lungs (with its illustration showing the homunculus with giant limbs) whereas when we rest and digest our stomach and brain dominate (with the drawing of this homunculus big on belly and head).

Beneath the illustrations you can find the different brain chemicals that create these emotional states, some of which you might have heard of, such as dopamine, adrenaline and serotonin. Together, these chemicals form the cranial cocktails behind each of the states we feel.

As part of the mini exhibition, SCCR’s various developments are stepping off the screen to create eye-catching dioramas. In addition to the Cranial Cocktail resource, visitors to the science centre will encounter Monkey vs Lizard, where an interactive quiz checks where your mind is on an evolutionary spectrum spanning from the empathetic mammalian to the more reactionary reptilian brain.

Using circus characters to illustrate different temperaments, #KeepTheHeid looks at how we handle – or not – anger.

The most recent development, The Three Brains, looks at the mind-body connection, using the metaphor of a rock band to understand how having your brain, heart and gut in harmony can help build your emotional and mental health’s resilience so that you make the sort of decisions that strengthen rather than weaken family bonds.

Science centre visitors can find the mini exhibition on the Ground Floor, where it will stay for the time being. For those who want to learn more about the science of conflict and how to resolve damaging arguments, the mini exhibition will have tablets attached allowing the public to try the SCCR’s quizzes and resources for themselves. The mini exhibition also has QR codes that take your phone straight to the SCCR website.

Given those 5000 young people who find themselves homeless every year, we have to take every opportunity to give young people and families the tools to improve relationships – and on that point there can be no argument.

If you’d like to know more about Cyrenians’ Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution, visit scottishconflictresolution.org.uk