Helping universities investigate important questions.
The ICONS Project has supported a number of research studies at academic institutions. Learn more about a few of the studies, below, and contact our team to discuss your research needs.
Research study: Grouping decision makers
ICONS supported a series of experiments designed to assess the impact of grouping decision makers by their levels of cognitive complexity and observing the impact on the outcomes they attained in crisis negotiations. The participants — University of Maryland undergraduates who took on roles in a simulated international hostage crisis — used a computer-based decision support system and a controlled network environment — ICONSnet — 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 pointed to a positive relationship between the level of homogeneity in cognitive complexity among decision makers and the achievement of positive outcomes in crisis negotiations. This research program was supported by the National Science Foundation and the United States Institute of Peace. (Santmire, Tara, Wilkenfeld, J., Kraus. S., Holley, K., Santmire, Toni, Gleditsch, K. "The Impact of Cognitive Diversity on Crisis Negotiations," Political Psychology, Vol. 19, No. 4, 1998).
Research study: Mediation and international crises
Another ICONS-based research study focused on mediation as a means for mitigating or at least minimizing the potentially turbulent and violent consequences of international crises. Two main research questions were explored: (1) Does mediation in general affect the dynamics and outcomes of crisis negotiations? and (2) Does the impact of mediation vary in accordance with mediator style? Data were drawn from the International Crisis Behavior data set and from ongoing experimental work with human subjects. The historical data revealed that mediated crises are more typically characterized by compromise among crisis actors, are more likely to end in agreements, and show a tendency toward long-term tension reduction. The ICONS-supported experimental research confirmed the relationship between mediation and the achievement of agreement and also revealed that mediation leads to crises of shorter duration and to greater satisfaction by the parties with the outcome. A manipulative mediation style is more likely to yield favorable crisis management outcomes than is a more restrictive facilitative style. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation. (Wilkenfeld, J. Young, K., Asal, V., and Quinn, D. (2003). "Mediating International Crises: Cross-national and Experimental Perspectives." Journal of Conflict Resolution, 47:279-301).
More research studies
Other university-based research programs that have used ICONS simulations include:
- Torney-Purta, J. (1992). "Cognitive Representations of the Political System in Adolescents: The Continuum from Pre-Novice to Expert," New Directions for Child Development 56: 11-24.
- Torney-Purta, J. (1996). Conceptual Change Among Adolescents using Computer networks and Peer Collaboration in Studying International Political Issues." In S. Vosniadou et al. (Eds.) International Perspectives on the Design of Technology Supported Environments. Hillsdale, NJ: Laurence Erlbaum. 203-219.
- Torney-Purta, J. (1998). "Evaluating Programs Designed to Teach International Content and Negotiation Skills," International Negotiation: A Journal of Theory and Practice. (1): 77-97.
- Wilkenfeld, J., Kraus, S. and Holley, K. (1999). "The Use of Decision Support Systems in Crisis Negotiations." In Kent, A. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science. New York: Marcel Dekker.
- Wilkenfeld, J., Young, K., Quinn, D., and Asal, V. (2005). Mediating International Crises. Routledge: Oxon, UK.
- Quinn, D., Wilkenfeld, J., Smarick, K., and Asal, V. (2006). "Power Play: Mediation in Symmetric and Asymmetric International Crises." International Interactions. 32, 4: 441-470.