Category Archives: Online Games, Tools & Tests

A look in the mirror: seeking self-awareness

Conflict resolution work can be demanding, asking much of those who practice it. Among other qualities, practitioners must ideally bring to the table an openness and curiosity to learn more about how others see and experience the world; respect and compassion; the humility to acknowledge an error and express regret for an unintended outcome; and the willingness to remain alert for their own cognitive errors and biases.

These attributes flow from the capacity for self-awareness — a quality that requires eternal vigilance and constant practice. (I cheerfully admit that I’m a slow but persistent learner myself, hopeful nonetheless that there’s truth in the adage “practice makes perfect”.)

Fortunately the internet, with its almost infinite bounty of resources, offers plenty of opportunity for self-reflective exercise, with online tools, ongoing research studies, and tests to help new and experienced dispute resolvers gain greater self-awareness. Here’s a partial list:

If you’re interested in finding additional ways to both contribute to scientific advancement and continue the voyage of self-discovery, a whole list of current psychological research projects can be found on the web site for the Hanover College Psychology Department.

Update:

Michael McIlwrath, Senior Counsel, Litigation for GE Infrastructure – Oil & Gas, and the host of the outstanding ADR podcast series, International Dispute Negotiation, kindly suggested the addition of two other resources for readers:

Thanks so much, Mike!

The right stuff: morality resources, articles, studies, and a course, all online

Find your moral compass through resources, studies, a course all onlineGreat minds – and wits – have considered the difficulties of moral choice. Influential activist and thinker Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” (Bon vivant Mae West, who took a more pragmatic view, purportedly said, “Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.”)

Moment by moment, life presents us with difficult choices and questions to confront. What are we to do in the face of moral dilemma? As moral actors, how do we decide? What guides us? What are the sources of moral values? Religion? Law? Or are they coded into our DNA? How do we apply moral values? Are moral principles universally held, transcending culture? Or are they shifting social constructs, dependent upon the vagaries of time and place?

Inside all of us is the philosopher who delights in wrestling with questions concerning moral decision making – and the devil’s advocate who likes to pose them. The internet holds much to stimulate us, particularly these outstanding resources on morality, moral psychology, and moral decision making:

Conflict style inventory gets upgrade, free review copy available

Kraybill releases 2008 upgrade for Style MattersConflict resolution expert, mediator, and peacebuilder Dr. Ron Kraybill has asked me to let readers know that he has released a 2008 upgrade for Style Matters: The Kraybill Conflict Style Inventory through the company he founded, Riverhouse ePress.

With over 120,000 users, Style Matters has helped business managers, organizational consultants, and conflict resolution trainers worldwide teach personal conflict management skills. What distinguishes Style Matters from other conflict mode instruments is its commitment to cultural sensitivity, providing different instructions for collectivist and individualistic cultures.

As he has done in the past with previous releases of Style Matters, Dr. Kraybill generously offers a free review copy for downloading, along with a trainers’ guide (PDF).

Jumping to conclusions, part 2: correct answers to the Cash Register Test

Last week I posed a challenge to my readers: to have a go at “The Cash Register Exercise“, an uncritical inference test. I promised to divulge the correct answers yesterday, but unfortunately circumstances intervened and prevented me from doing so, and so, with my apologies, I post them today.

For those of you who missed last week’s post, I repeat the instructions and the exercise here:

To complete the exercise, read the following story. Below it are 12 statements about the story. After you read the story, determine whether each of the 12 statements is

  • T – true;
  • F – false ; or
  • ? – you do not have enough information to determine whether the statement is true or false

Allow yourself no more than 5 minutes to complete the exercise. Ready? Here goes:

The Cash Register Exercise

The Story

A businessman had just turned off the lights in the store when a man appeared and demanded money. The owner opened a cash register. The contents of the cash register were scooped up, and the man sped away. A member of the police force was notified promptly.

12 Statements about the Story

  1. A man appeared after the owner had turned off his store lights.
  2. The robber was a man.
  3. The man did not demand money.
  4. The man who opened the cash register was the owner.
  5. The store owner scooped up the contents of the cash register and ran away.
  6. Someone opened a cash register.
  7. After the man who demanded the money scooped up the contents of the cash register, he ran away.
  8. While the cash register contained money, the story does not state how much.
  9. The robber demanded money of the owner.
  10. It was broad daylight when the man appeared.
  11. The story concerns a series of events in which only three persons are referred to: the owner of the store, a man who demanded money, and a member of the police force.
  12. The following events in the story are true: someone demanded money, a cash register was opened, its contents were scooped up, and a man dashed out of the store.

Correct Answers for the Cash Register Exercise

I warned readers that only twice when I’ve conducted this exercise has anyone gotten every answer right.

I provide the answer key on the right within this post, displayed upside down so as not to spoil things for those of you still trying to figure it out. To see the text right-side up, you can either turn your computer screen upside down (just kidding) or simply place your cursor over the answer key and the answer will appear as alt-text.

Government regulation or free market? Take the Policy Implicit Association Test

Take the Policy IATMediators and negotiators must know themselves well — to guard against biases that can affect neutrality for the former or influence decision making for the latter. I’ve therefore encouraged readers to get to know themselves better by taking one of the Implicit Association Tests (IAT) available at Project Implicit.

A new IAT is now available, one which tests for implicit associations about policy, the government, and the market. You can access the Policy IAT at the Project on Law and Mind Sciences at Harvard University or via The Situationist, a social science blog that provides a forum for exploring the effect of situational forces on human behavior.

Prevent conflict escalation: use Google's new Mail Goggles email tool

Prevent conflict with Mail GogglesAs anyone knows who has awakened in the sober light of dawn to regret an email sent in haste the night before, electronic communications can be lethal. Be too quick on the trigger with the “send” button and you may find you’ve initiated DEFCON 1 in your workplace or personal relationships. (And forget about negotiating by email, as Victoria Pynchon cautioned readers recently — its very nature seems to encourage anti-social behavior, including lying and deception.)

Google, understanding full well the dark side of human nature (particularly that side of human nature that responds to its email after too many Jell-O shots in the wee hours of the morning), offers a solution: Mail Goggles. Here’s how it works:

When you enable Mail Goggles, it will check that you’re really sure you want to send that late night Friday email. And what better way to check than by making you solve a few simple math problems after you click send to verify you’re in the right state of mind?

By default, Mail Goggles is only active late night on the weekend as that is the time you’re most likely to need it. Once enabled, you can adjust when it’s active in the General settings.

Mail Goggles may prove to be one of the world’s most powerful conflict prevention tools yet. It’s available on all Gmail accounts. Simply click on “Settings”, then “Lab”, then scroll down to “Mail Goggles” and select “Enable” to protect yourself from further embarrassment.

Jumping to conclusions? Take the Cash Register Test to find out how much

Jumping to conclusions

For many years I have used the following exercise in trainings and workshops on conflict resolution, communication, and negotiation. Known as “The Cash Register Exercise”, it is adapted from “The Uncritical Inference Test” created by William V. Haney, Communication and Organizational Behavior: Text and Cases.

To complete the exercise, read the following story. Below it are 12 statements about the story. After you read the story, determine whether each of the 12 statements is

  • T – true;
  • F – false ; or
  • ? – you do not have enough information to determine whether the statement is true or false

Allow yourself no more than 5 minutes to complete the exercise. On Monday, October 13, I’ll reveal the correct answers. (In the meantime, please try to resist the temptation to google them ahead of time.)

Ready? Here goes:

The Cash Register Exercise

The Story

A businessman had just turned off the lights in the store when a man appeared and demanded money. The owner opened a cash register. The contents of the cash register were scooped up, and the man sped away. A member of the police force was notified promptly.

12 Statements about the Story

  1. A man appeared after the owner had turned off his store lights.
  2. The robber was a man.
  3. The man did not demand money.
  4. The man who opened the cash register was the owner.
  5. The store owner scooped up the contents of the cash register and ran away.
  6. Someone opened a cash register.
  7. After the man who demanded the money scooped up the contents of the cash register, he ran away.
  8. While the cash register contained money, the story does not state how much.
  9. The robber demanded money of the owner.
  10. It was broad daylight when the man appeared.
  11. The story concerns a series of events in which only three persons are referred to: the owner of the store, a man who demanded money, and a member of the police force.
  12. The following events in the story are true: someone demanded money, a cash register was opened, its contents were scooped up, and a man dashed out of the store.

To pique your interest further, I should warn you that in all the times I have used this exercise, only twice has anyone gotten all the answers right. If you’d like to print out a copy so that you can write your responses down, click here to download a PDF version.

Good luck, and click here for the answer when you’re ready.

Test your moral DNA online

Angel? Or devil? Test your moral DNAWant to know what you’re really made of — ethically speaking, that is? The Times Online links to an online test that identifies your moral DNA.

This test ranks in order of preference the three moral philosophies that guide your ethical decision making: principled conscience, social conscience and rules compliance. Your test results reveal your ethical nature — enforcer, philosopher, judge, angel, teacher, or guardian.

Personally I have skepticism aplenty about a test that purports to plumb my moral depths, particularly when the outcome rests on a mere handful of responses. According to my test results, I am an angel — which any of my closest friends will assure you I am not. ;)

For a more scholarly sojourn into the realm of human moral judgment, visit the Moral Sense Test, which I blogged about three years ago. The MST is part of a research study sponsored by the Primate Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at Harvard.

(Hat tip to Thinking Ethics.)

How rational are your decisions? Find out at the Predictably Irrational web site

decisions_pathwayWe mediators play midwife to decision making. We patiently assist in an arduous and sometimes painful process while parties labor, struggling to make the right choices in difficult circumstances. We strive to ensure that those who weigh those choices are able to reach rational decisions based on accurate and complete information.

But just how rational are the decisions that people make, whether at the mediation table or anywhere else? How much control do any of us really exert over those choices?

A new book has some surprising answers and explains why it is that we are more susceptible than we realize to the vagaries of our own minds and vulnerable to the forces of emotions and social norms. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, written by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and a visiting professor at Duke University.

As much fun as the book (and of course more interactive) is the Predictably Irrational web site. Don’t miss the Demonstrations page with cool optical illusions and games you can test yourself with.

A video game tests racial bias – and the willingness to pull the trigger

Racial bias and the decision to shootJoshua Correll, a member of the University of Chicago Department of Psychology faculty, in conjunction with his work with the Stereotyping & Prejudice Research Laboratory, has created The Police Officer’s Dilemma, a video game that tests the effect of racial bias on decisions to shoot.

When you launch the game, you are presented with a series of images of young men against various backgrounds. Some of the men hold guns, while others hold innocent items like cellphones or soda cans. Half of the men are black and half are white. You must shoot all armed men but holster your gun at the sight of those who are unarmed. The game tests whether the target’s race influences the decision to shoot. The results are chilling:

Participants shoot an armed target more quickly and more often when that target is Black, rather than White. However, participants decide not to shoot an unarmed target more quickly and more often when the target is White, rather than Black. In essence, participants seem to process stereotype-consistent targets (armed Blacks and unarmed Whites) more easily than counterstereotypic targets (unarmed Blacks and armed Whites).

To play the game, you can test yourself with the beta version. You may be shocked by the results.

(Via On the Ground.)