Decision making and confrontation: The need for multiple perspectives
The analysis made, so far, about the Ukraine-Russia confrontation have applied either the Expected Utility Method (Bruce Bueno de Mesquita: The Predictioneer’s Game) or Prospect Theory (Kaneman and Tversky: Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk) or both.
These two powerful tools help to gain valuable insights about the possible behavior of the actors in the confrontation.
Both methods are centered on considering expected cost benefit analysis and preferences. That is to say what each actor wants to get out of the confrontation.
Prospect theory makes a deep review of Expected Utility and brings the concept of a reference point, risk and loss aversion but it continues to focus in the transactional component of the interaction leaving the relational dimension out of the evaluation.
We all know that history and learning, mentioned by some critics, together with doubts about the intentions and commitments of the actors also influences their interactions and their decision making process.
Since one method alone does no give a deep enough inside about complex confrontation we believe that Drama Theory or Confrontation Analysis used together with Expected Utility and Prospect Theory can throw new lights over the problem and helps us to get a more comprehensive and deeper insight of the situation and its dynamic.
This framework developed by Nigel Howard, Jim Bryant and Peter Bennet (
) focus on the dilemmas the agents face during a confrontation. These dilemmas emerge as a result of the open or hidden intention of the actors during their strategic interactions.
The participant agents, according to Drama Theory, will face, depending on their positions and doubts, Persuasion, Trust, Threat, Rejection and Cooperation dilemmas that have to be solved prior to other solutions if we want to get a stable solution to the problem.
When this frame is applied to the Ukraine-Russia confrontation for example, it will help to see that all the actors face Persuasion and Threats dilemmas but above all they face a very strong Trust dilemma that will require very powerful and credible mediators, very high incentives and accepted change in behavior by all those involved, to create enough Trust to make any other solution viable.
It will also help to monitor the shadow confrontations that are happening inside each country.
The recent news about Mr. Putin escalating the war and threatening to use nuclear nukes (Prospect Theory framing would give to this option a high probability), Ukraine, USA and NATO face a Threat Dilemma and have to move very quickly to give Ukraine the member status of NATO that it is asking and at the same time put into play other powerful actions, not only to deter Putin, but to to make their Threats credible enough to deter Russia from using nuclear weapons or consider again the possibility of taking a country by force.
Considering an answer to this Threat some analyst, and very recently The Washington Post and The New York Times have made some analogy between the Ukraine Russia war and The Cuban Missile Crisis.
In this Doc we have incorporated an example of the analysis made by Professor Mark Haas applying Prospect Theory to the Cuban Crisis and them with some adaptation apply it to the Ukraine Russia situation considering that there are big differences between one case and the other: 1. The confrontation is indirect 2. There was not occupied territories like there is now, a lot of dead of innocent people that generates deep emotional states 3. Today are more countries affected and it is not easy to identify a negotiation scheme.
Prospect Theory shows that the frame of Kruschev and Putin are the same, they both seem to face loss of support and a diminished image in the international arena. That is not true of president Kennedy and president Biden (Kennedy during the crisis had internal problems and was coming from the failure of the invasion of Bay of Pigs) that had damage his international image. That is not the case of president Biden who is not in a very positive situation regarding national support but has a positive prestige in the international arena.
The Cuban crisis was not a big gamble for Europe but the Ukraine Russia confrontation is a game changer for Europe.
The simulation of the Expected Utility Model using the software developed by the Kapsarc Foundation
shows round by round how Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Putin do not change their positions in a simulated negotiation because none of the actors and their alliances have the influence or stimulus capable of making them change their rational position but as Prospect and Drama can show there is no way to solve now their emotional dilemmas.
View 2 of Position Round by Round
These analysis suggest that in front of such a complex problem you have to apply different tools to promote systematic and structured group discussion to get different perspectives. No stable solution will be found if you do not deal with the dilemmas of Trust, Persuasion, Threat, Expected gain/losses, and the risks dilemmas (Risk aversion and Gain/Loss pain at the same time.
After all at a meta level of the confrontation you are dealing with solving interconnected dilemas: Transactional and Relational Dilemmas.
The key learning is that you can not solve only the expected gain/losses dilemmas but you also have to solve the affection dilemmas and the doubts that the process generates.
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