A number of peace symbols have been used many ways in various cultures and contexts. The dove and olive branch was used symbolically by early Christians and then eventually became a secular peace symbol, popularized by Pablo Picasso after World War II. In the 1950s the "peace sign", as it is known today, was designed by Gerald Holtom as the logo for the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), a group at the forefront of the peace movement in the UK, and adopted by anti-war and counterculture activists in the US and elsewhere. The symbol is a super-imposition of the semaphore signals for the letters "N" and "D", taken to stand for "nuclear disarmament", while simultaneously acting as a reference to Goya's The Third of May 1808 (1814) (aka "Peasant Before the Firing Squad").
The V hand signal and the peace flag also became international peace symbols. The V sign (U+270C ✌ VICTORY HAND in Unicode) is a hand gesture, palm outwards, with the index and middle fingers open and all others closed. It had been used to represent victory during the Second World War. During the 1960s in the USA, activists against the Vietnam War and in subsequent anti-war protests adopted the gesture as a sign of peace.
Peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence. In a social sense, peace is commonly used to mean a lack of conflict (such as war) and freedom from fear of violence between individuals or heterogeneous (relatively foreign or distinct) groups. Throughout history leaders have used peacemaking and diplomacy to establish a certain type of behavioral restraint that has resulted in the establishment of regional peace or economic growth through various forms of agreements or peace treaties. Such behavioral restraint has often resulted in the reduction of conflicts, greater economic interactivity, and consequently substantial prosperity. The avoidance of war or violent hostility can be the result of thoughtful active listening and communication that enables greater genuine mutual understanding and therefore compromise. Leaders often benefit tremendously from the prestige of peace talks and treaties that can result in substantially enhanced popularity.
“Psychological peace” (such as a peaceful thinking and emotions) is perhaps less well defined yet often a necessary precursor to establishing "behavioral peace." Peaceful behavior sometimes results from a "peaceful inner disposition." Some have expressed the belief that peace can be initiated with a certain quality of inner tranquility that does not depend upon the uncertainties of daily life for its existence. The acquisition of such a "peaceful internal disposition" for oneself and others can contribute to resolving of otherwise seemingly irreconcilable competing interests.
Because psychological peace can be important to Behavioral peace, leaders sometimes de-escalate conflicts through compliments and generosity. Small gestures of rhetorical and actual generosity have been shown in psychological research to often result in larger levels of reciprocal generosity (and even virtuous circles of generosity). Such benevolent selfless behavior can eventually become a pattern that may become a lasting basis for improved relations between individuals and groups of people. Peace talks often start without preconditions and preconceived notions, because they are more than just negotiating opportunities. They place attention on peace itself over and above what may have been previously perceived as the competing needs or interests of separate individuals or parties to elicit peaceful feelings and therefore produce benevolent behavioral results. Peace talks are sometimes also uniquely important learning opportunities for the individuals or parties involved.