Coping with Conflict:A Dynamic Decision Making Perspective
This research investigates how students of political science playing the role of a state leader cope with structural and dynamic complexities of international conflict. This was studied with the aid of an interactive microworld simulator of a fishing dispute, which was designed according to principles of system dynamics. The research question was what type of decision-making patterns characterized subjects who adapted successfully to the challenges posed by the opponent in comparison to subjects who pursued policies that produced suboptimal payoffs. The results of this research suggest two reasons for poor adaptation. First, rather than exploring the consequences of all possible policy options, most subjects had very strong pre-existing policy preferences and were reluctant to abandon them in favor of alternative policies. Second, many subjects did not adequately analyze the statistical data that were required in order to estimate the payoffs. A third possibility that was explored but not sufficiently supported is that decisions were based on satisficing rather than comparing utilities associated with alternative policies.
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