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Keywords:

  • crisis;
  • negotiation;
  • cognitive complexity;
  • experiments;
  • simulation;
  • decision support systems;
  • utility

This paper reports on a series of experiments designed to assess the impact of grouping decision makers by level of cognitive complexity on the outcomes they attain in crisis negotiations. The participants—University of Maryland undergraduates who took roles in a simulated international hostage crisis—used a computer decision support system and a controlled network environment for communications. The goal of the experiments was to better understand the dynamics that lead certain types of groupings to have greater success in negotiations, and that lead certain groups of adversaries to achieve more mutually beneficial outcomes such as compromise and agreement. The findings point to a positive relationship between the level of homogeneity in cognitive complexity among decision makers and the achievement of positive outcomes in crisis negotiations.