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Role thinking: Standing in other people’s shoes to forecast decisions in conflicts

  • Green, Kesten C.
  • Armstrong, J. Scott

Better forecasts of decisions in conflict situations, such as occur in business, politics, and war, can help protagonists achieve better outcomes. It is common advice to “stand in the other person’s shoes” when involved in a conflict, a procedure we refer to as “role thinking.” We tested this advice in order to assess the extent to which it can improve accuracy. Improvement in accuracy is important because prior research found that unaided judgment produced forecasts that were little better than guessing. We obtained 101 role-thinking forecasts from 27 Naval postgraduate students (experts) and 107 role-thinking forecasts from 103 second-year organizational behavior students (novices) of the decisions that would be made in nine diverse conflicts. The accuracy of the forecasts from the novices was 33% and of those from the experts 31%. The accuracy of the role-thinking forecasts was little different from chance, which was 28%. In contrast, when we asked groups of participants to each act as if they were in the shoes one of the protagonists, accuracy was 60%.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 16422.

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Date of creation: 30 May 2009
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:16422
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  1. J.S. Armstrong, 2005. "Structured Analogies for Forecasting," General Economics and Teaching 0502001, EconWPA.
  2. Armstrong, J. Scott, 2007. "Significance tests harm progress in forecasting," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 321-327.
  3. Green, Kesten C., 2002. "Forecasting decisions in conflict situations: a comparison of game theory, role-playing, and unaided judgement," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 321-344.
  4. Babcock, Linda, et al, 1995. "Biased Judgments of Fairness in Bargaining," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1337-43, December.
  5. Green, Kesten C., 2005. "Game theory, simulated interaction, and unaided judgement for forecasting decisions in conflicts: Further evidence," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 463-472.
  6. Richard M. Cyert & James G. March & William H. Starbuck, 1961. "Two Experiments on Bias and Conflict in Organizational Estimation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 7(3), pages 254-264, April.
  7. Kesten C. Green & J. Scott Armstrong, 2004. "Value of Expertise For Forecasting Decisions in Conflicts," Monash Econometrics and Business Statistics Working Papers 27/04, Monash University, Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics.
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