A Cylindrical Model of Communication Behavior in Crisis Negotiations



This article integrates existing theoretical perspectives on message content and negotiator motivation to formulate a comprehensive definitional model of the interrelationships among communication behaviors in crisis negotiation. A sample of 189 nuclear dialogue spans were transcribed from 9 resolved cases of hostage negotiation and each utterance coded at the level of thought units across 41 behavioral variables. Results of a nonmetric, multidimensional scaling solution provided clear support for the hypothesized cylindrical structure of communication behavior, revealing 3 dominant levels of suspect-negotiator interaction (Avoidance, Distributive, Integrative). At each level of the structure, interactions were found to modulate around 3 thematic styles of communication (Identity, Instrumental, Relational), which reflected the underlying motivational emphasis of individuals' dialogue. Finally, the intensity of communication was found to play a polarizing role in the cylinder, with intense, functionally discrete behaviors occurring toward the boundary of the structure.