Role Thinking: Standing in Other People’s Shoes to Forecast Decisions in Conflicts

21 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2010 Last revised: 15 Aug 2015

See all articles by Kesten C. Green

Kesten C. Green

University of South Australia - UniSA Business School; Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science

J. Scott Armstrong

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

To forecast decisions in conflict situations, experts are often advised to figuratively stand in the other person’s shoes. We refer to this as “role thinking” because, in practice, the advice is to think about how other protagonists will view the situation in order to predict their decisions. We tested the effect of role thinking on forecast accuracy. We obtained 101 role-thinking forecasts of the decisions that would be made in nine diverse conflicts from 27 Naval postgraduate students (experts) and 107 role thinking forecasts from 103 second-year organizational behavior students (novices). The accuracy of the novices’ forecasts was 33% and the experts’ 31%; both were little different from chance (guessing), which was 28%. The lack of improvement in accuracy from role thinking strengthens the finding from earlier research that it is not sufficient to think hard about a situation in order to predict the decisions groups of people will make when they are in conflict. It is useful instead to ask groups of role players to simulate the situation. When groups of novice participants adopted the roles of protagonists in the aforementioned nine conflicts and interacted with each other, their group decisions predicted the actual decisions with an accuracy of 60%.

Keywords: combining forecasts, evaluating forecasts, expert judgment, group decision making, organizational behavior, perspective-taking, role playing, simulated interaction, unaided judgment

JEL Classification: C53, C79, D70, D74, D80, D81, D82, D84, J52, K20

Suggested Citation

Green, Kesten C. and Armstrong, J. Scott, Role Thinking: Standing in Other People’s Shoes to Forecast Decisions in Conflicts (2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1596623 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1596623

Kesten C. Green (Contact Author)

University of South Australia - UniSA Business School ( email )

GPO Box 2471
Adelaide, SA 5001
Australia
+61 8 83012 9097 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://people.unisa.edu.au/Kesten.Green

Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science ( email )

Australia

HOME PAGE: http://www.marketingscience.info/people/KestenGreen.html

J. Scott Armstrong

University of Pennsylvania - Marketing Department ( email )

700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340
United States
215-898-5087 (Phone)
215-898-2534 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://marketing.wharton.upenn.edu/people/faculty/armstrong.cfm

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