What are Problem Structuring Methods?

What are Problem Structuring Methods?

Source: PROBLEM STRUCTURING IN PUBLIC POLICY ANALYSIS

Problem structuring methods provide a methodological complement to theories of policy design. Arguably, structuring a problem is a prerequisite of designing solutions for that problem.4 In this context, problem structuring methods are metamethods. They are “about” and “come before” processes of policy design and other forms of problem solving.

Source: Strategic Development: Methods and Models

Key Terms

  • PSM
  • Soft OR
  • Hard OR
  • Unstructured Problems
  • Systems
  • System Sciences
  • SODA Strategic Options Development and Analysis
  • SSM Soft Systems Methodology
  • SCA Strategic Choice Approach
  • Robustness Analysis
  • Drama Theory
  • Interactive Planning
  • Scenario Planning
  • Critical Systems Heuristics
  • SWOT
  • Strategic Assumption Surfacing and Testing
  • Viable Systems Model VSM
  • System Dynamics
  • Decision Conferencing
  • Multi-methodology
  • John Mingers
  • Jonathan Rosenhead
  • John Morecroft
  • MC Jackson
  • Operational Research
  • Problem Structuring Methods PSM
  • Stafford Beer
  • Robert Dyson
  • Jay Forrester
  • Russell Ackoff
  • Robert Flood
  • Peter Checkland
  • Group Model Building
  • Behaviour Operational Research
  • Community Operations Research
  • Ill-structured versus Well-structured Problems
  • Wicked Versus Tame Problems
  • Ill-Defined versus Well-Defined Problems
  • Nigel Howard
  • Metagames
  • Hypergames

Problem Structuring Methods

Source: Past, present and future of problem structuring methods

The problematic situations for which PSMs aim to provide analytic assistance are characterized by

  • Multiple actors,
  • Differing perspectives, 
  • Partially conflicting interests,  
  • Significant intangibles,
  • Perplexing uncertainties.

The relative salience of these factors will differ between situations (and different methods are selective in the emphasis given to them). However, in all cases there is a meta-characteristic, that of complexity, arising out of the need to comprehend a tangle of issues without being able to start from a presumed consensual formulation. For an introduction to PSMs, see Rosenhead and Mingers, 2001

Source: Problem structuring methods in action

Strategic options development and analysis (SODA) is a general problem identification method that uses cognitive mapping as a modelling device for eliciting and recording individuals’ views of a problem situation. The merged individual cognitive maps (or a joint map developed within a workshop session) provide the framework for group discussions, and a facilitator guides participants towards commitment to a portfolio of actions.

Soft systems methodology (SSM) is a general method for system redesign. Participants build ideal-type conceptual models (CMs), one for each relevant world view. They compare them with perceptions of the existing system in order to generate debate about what changes are culturally feasible and systemically desirable. 

Strategic choice approach (SCA) is a planning approach centered on managing uncertainty in strategic situations. Facilitators assist participants to model the interconnectedness of decision areas. Interactive comparison of alternative decision schemes helps them to bring key uncertainties to the surface. On this basis the group identifies priority areas for partial commitment, and designs explorations and contingency plans.

Robustness analysis is an approach that focuses on maintaining useful flexibility under uncertainty. In an interactive process, participants and analysts assess both the compatibility of alternative initial commitments with possible future configurations of the system being planned for, and the performance of each configuration in feasible future environments. This enables them to compare the flexibility maintained by alternative initial commitments. 

Drama theory draws on two earlier approaches, meta games and hyper games. It is an interactive method of analysing co-operation and conflict among multiple actors. A model is built from perceptions of the options available to the various actors, and how they are rated. Drama theory looks for the “dilemmas” presented to the actors within this model of the situation. Each dilemma is a change point, tending to cause an actor to feel specific emotions and to produce rational arguments by which the model itself is redefined. When and only when such successive redefinitions have eliminated all dilemmas is the actors’ joint problem fully resolved. Analysts commonly work with one of the parties, helping it to be more effective in the rational-emotional process of dramatic resolution. (Descriptions based substantially on Rosenhead, 1996.)

Given the ill-defined location of the PSM/non- PSM boundary, there are a number of other methods with some currency that have at least certain family resemblances. These include critical systems heuristics (CSH) (Ulrich, 2000), interactive planning (Ackoff, 1981), and strategic assumption surfacing and testing (Mason and Mitroff, 1981). Other related methods which feature in this special issue are SWOT (Weihrich, 1998), scenario planning (Schoemaker, 1998), and the socio-technical systems approach (Trist and Murray, 1993). Those which are particularly close to the spirit of PSMs in at least some of their modes of use, and therefore thought to merit inclusion in Rosenhead and Mingers (2001), are the following:

Viable systems model (VSM) is a generic model of a viable organization based on cybernetic principles. It specifies five notional systems that should exist within an organization in some form––operations, co-ordination, control, intelligence, and policy, together with the appropriate control and communicational relationships. Although it was developed with a prescriptive intent, it can also be used as part of a debate about problems of organizational design and redesign (Harnden, 1990). 

System dynamics(SD) is a way of modelling peoples’ perceptions of real-world systems based especially on causal relationships and feedback. It was developed as a traditional simulation tool but can be used, especially in combination with influence diagrams (causal–loop diagrams), as a way of facilitating group discussion (Lane, 2000; Vennix, 1996).

Decision conferencing is a variant of the more widely known “decision analysis”. Like the latter, it builds models to support choice between decision alternatives in cases where the consequences may be multidimensional; and where there may be uncertainty about future events which affect those consequences. What distinguishes decision conferencing is that it operates in workshop mode, with one or more facilitators eliciting from the group of participants both the structure of the model, and the probabilities and utilities to be included in it. The aim is cast, not as the identification of an objectively best solution, but as the achievement of shared understanding, the development of a sense of common purpose, and the generation of a commitment to action (Phillips, 1989; Watson and Buede, 1987).

There are a number of texts which present a different selection of “softer” methods than do Rosenhead and Mingers. These include Flood and Jackson (1991), who concentrate on systems-based methods, Dyson and O’Brien (1998) who consider a range of hard and soft approaches in the area of strategy formulation; and Sorensen and Vidal (1999) who make a wide range of methods accessible to a Scandinavian readership. There is clearly an extensive repertoire of methods available. In fact it is common to combine together a number of PSMs, or PSMs together with more traditional methods, in a single intervention––a practice known as multimethodology (Mingers and Gill, 1997). So the range of methodological choice is wider even than a simple listing of methods might suggest.

Source: Are project managers ready for the 21th challenges? A review of problem structuring methods for decision support

Benefits of Problem Structuring Methods

Source: Are project managers ready for the 21th challenges? A review of problem structuring methods for decision support

My Related Posts

Systems and Organizational Cybernetics

Micro Motives, Macro Behavior: Agent Based Modeling in Economics

Production and Distribution Planning : Strategic, Global, and Integrated

Drama Theory: Choices, Conflicts and Dilemmas

Drama Theory: Acting Strategically

Quantitative Models for Closed Loop Supply Chain and Reverse Logistics

Hierarchical Planning: Integration of Strategy, Planning, Scheduling, and Execution

Stock Flow Consistent Input Output Models (SFCIO)

Stock Flow Consistent Models for Ecological Economics

Gantt Chart Simulation for Stock Flow Consistent Production Schedules

Shell Oil’s Scenarios: Strategic Foresight and Scenario Planning for the Future

Water | Food | Energy | Nexus: Mega Trends and Scenarios for the Future

Global Trends, Scenarios, and Futures: For Foresight and Strategic Management

HP’s Megatrends

Global Flow of Funds: Statistical Data Matrix across National Boundaries

Credit Chains and Production Networks

Supply Chain Finance (SCF) / Financial Supply Chain Management (F-SCM)

Financial Social Accounting Matrix

Morris Copeland and Flow of Funds accounts

Systems Biology: Biological Networks, Network Motifs, Switches and Oscillators

Oscillations and Amplifications in Demand-Supply Network Chains

Portfolio Planning Models for Corporate Strategic Planning

Cyber-Semiotics: Why Information is not enough

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Integral Theory of Ken Wilber

Key Sources of Research

Understanding behaviour in problem structuring methods interventions with activity theory.

White, L., Burger, K., & Yearworth, M. (2016).

European Journal of Operational Research, 249(3), 983-1004. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejor.2015.07.044

https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/en/publications/understanding-behaviour-in-problem-structuring-methods-interventi

“Is Value Focused Thinking a Problem Structuring Method or Soft OR or what?”

Keisler, Jeffrey,

(2012). 

Management Science and Information Systems Faculty Publication Series. Paper 42.


http://scholarworks.umb.edu/msis_faculty_pubs/42

Rational Analysis for a Problematic World Revisited: Problem Structuring Methods for Complexity, Uncertainty and Conflict

John Mingers, Jonathan Rosenhead

2001 Book Second ed.

The characteristics of problem structuring methods: A literature review

https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/the-characteristics-of-problem-structuring-methods-a-literature-review(e4bbf605-6df1-4a33-853c-2bc17dc18a8e).html

Problem structuring methods in action

John Mingers a,*, Jonathan Rosenhead b

a Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK 

b London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK

European Journal of Operational Research 152 (2004) 530–554

Click to access Problem%20structuring%20methods%20in%20action.pdf

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Problem-structuring-methods-in-action-Mingers-Rosenhead/752fdb5dfaddbc0a7946f281a9c454d6f4203542

Click to access Problem%20structuring%20methods%20in%20action.pdf

Introduction to the Special Issue: Teaching Soft O.R., Problem Structuring Methods, and Multimethodology.

John Mingers, Jonathan Rosenhead, (2011)

INFORMS Transactions on Education 12(1):1-3. http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/ited.1110.0073

Click to access Mingers-Rosenberg-PSM-SoftOR.pdf

https://pubsonline.informs.org/toc/ited/12/1

Problem Structuring Methods, 1950s-1989: An Atlas of the Journal Literature

Georgiou, Ion and Heck, Joaquim,

(June 26, 2017).

Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3077648 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3077648

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3077648

“An Investigation on the Effectiveness of a Problem Structuring Method in a GroupDecision-Making Process”

Thaviphoke, Ying.

(2020). Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Dissertation, Engineering Management, Old Dominion University,

DOI: 10.25777/cx7x-z403
https://digitalcommons.odu.edu/emse_etds/182

What’s the Problem? An Introduction to Problem Structuring Methods

Jonathan Rosenhead

Published Online:1 Dec 1996

https://doi.org/10.1287/inte.26.6.117

PROBLEM STRUCTURING IN PUBLIC POLICY ANALYSIS

William N. Dunn
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs University of Pittsburgh

Past, present and future of problem structuring methods

J Rosenhead

London School of Economics, London, UK

Journal of the Operational Research Society (2006), 1–7

Framing and Reframing as a Creative Problem Structuring Aid

Victoria J Mabin, and John Davies Management Group Victoria University of Wellington PO Box 600 Wellington
email: vicky.mabin@vuw.ac.nz

Tel +4-495 5140
email: john.davies@vuw.ac.nz Tel + 4-471 5382
Fax + 4-471 2200

Reassessing the scope of OR practice: the influences of problem structuring methods and the analytics movement

Ranyard, J.C., Fildes, R. and Hun, T-I (2014).

(LUMS Working Paper 2014:8).

Lancaster University: The Department of Management Science.

Reasoning maps for decision aid: an integrated approach for problem-structuring and multi-criteria evaluation


G Montibeller1∗, V Belton2, F Ackermann2 and L Ensslin3

1London School of Economics, London, UK; 2University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK; and 3Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), Floriano ́polis, Brazil

Journal of the Operational Research Society (2008) 59, 575–589

Special issue on problem structuring research and practice

Fran Ackermann • L. Alberto Franco • Etie ̈nne Rouwette • Leroy White

EURO J Decis Process (2014) 2:165–172 DOI 10.1007/s40070-014-0037-6

Soft OR Comes of Age – But Not Everywhere!

Mingers, John (2011)

ISSN 0305-0483. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.omega.2011.01.005

Omega, 39 (6). pp. 729-741

An Investigation on the Effectiveness of a Problem Structuring Method in a Group Decision-Making Process

Ying Thaviphoke
Old Dominion University, ythav001@odu.edu

2020

OR competences: the demands of problem structuring methods

Richard John Ormerod

EURO J Decis Process (2014) 2:313–340

DOI 10.1007/s40070-013-0021-6

Hard OR, Soft OR, Problem Structuring Methods, Critical Systems Thinking: A Primer

Hans G. Daellenbach

Department of Management University of Canterbury Christchurch, NZ

h.daellenbach@mang.canterbury.ac.nz

Are project managers ready for the 21th challenges? A review of problem structuring methods for decision support

José Ramón San Cristóbal Mateo

Emma Diaz Ruiz de Navamuel

María Antonia González Villa

https://repositorio.unican.es/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10902/13669/ijispm-050203.pdf?sequence=1

Towards a new framework for evaluating systemic problem structuring methods

Gerald Midgley  Robert Y. Cavana  John Brocklesby , Jeff L. Foote  David R.R. Wood , Annabel Ahuriri-Driscoll 

European Journal of Operational Research 229 (2013) 143–154

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0377221713000945

Problem structuring methods

Jonathan Rosenhead1

Chapter in book

(1) The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, England

Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

https://doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-0611-X_806

Encyclopedia of Operations Research and Management Science

2001 Edition | Editors: Saul I. Gass, Carl M. Harris

Beyond Problem Structuring Methods: Reinventing the Future of OR/MS

Author(s): M. C. Jackson

Source: The Journal of the Operational Research Society, Vol. 57, No. 7, Special Issue: Problem Structuring Methods (Jul., 2006), pp. 868-878

Published by: Palgrave Macmillan Journals on behalf of the Operational Research Society

Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/4102274

Strategic Development: Methods and Models

Robert G. Dyson (Editor)Frances A. O’Brien (Editor)

ISBN: 978-0-471-97495-6 

May 1998 346 Pages

https://www.wiley.com/en-al/Strategic+Development:+Methods+and+Models-p-9780471974956

Group Model Building:
Problem Structuring, Policy Simulation and Decision Support

David F. Andersen, University at Albany
Jac A.M. Vennix, Radboud University Nijmegen George P. Richardson, University at Albany Etiënne A.J.A. Rouwette, Radboud University Nijmegen

Reassessing the Scope of OR Practice: the Influences of Problem Structuring Methods and the Analytics Movement

J. C. Ranyard, R. Fildes* and Tun-I Hu

The Department of Management Science Lancaster University Management School Lancaster LA1 4YX
UK

The Social Significance of Drama and Narrative Arts

The Social Significance of Drama and Narrative Arts

“Art is not a mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it”

Key Terms

  • Drama
  • Arts
  • Narrative Arts
  • Mirroring
  • Reflection
  • Reflexivity
  • Emma Goldman
  • Drama Theory
  • Social Mirrors
  • Reflex
  • Social Environment
  • Social Landscape
  • Social Ecosystem
  • Social Action
  • Social Justice
  • Human Rights
  • Human Development
  • Coherence
  • Problem Structuring
  • Crystallization
  • Cybernetic Loop
  • Reflexive – Active Systems
  • System Sciences and Cybernetics

In 1914, Emma Goldman wrote the forward to her book shared below.

There is certain timelessness to her words.  As pertinent today as they were more than a hundred years ago.

Click to access 0f485a3c9a2770d368acc6429ad9898700b4.pdf

Emma Goldman, The Social Significance of the Modern Drama

(Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1914; The Gorham Press, Boston, U.S.A.)

FOREWORD

IN order to understand the social and dynamic significance of modern dramatic art it is necessary, I believe, to ascertain the difference between the functions of art for art’s sake and art as the mirror of life.

Art for art’s sake presupposes an attitude of aloofness on the part of the artist toward the complex struggle of life: he must rise above the ebb and tide of life. He is to be merely an artistic conjurer of beautiful forms, a creator of pure fancy.

That is not the attitude of modern art, which is preeminently the reflex, the mirror of life. The artist being a part of life cannot detach himself from the events and occurrences that pass panorama-like before his eyes, impressing themselves upon his emotional and intellectual vision.

The modern artist is, in the words of August Strindberg, “a lay preacher popularizing the pressing questions of his time.” Not necessarily because his aim is to proselyte, but because he can best express himself by being true to life.

Millet, Meunier, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, Emerson, Walt Whitman, Tolstoy, Ibsen, Strindberg, Hauptmann and a host of others mirror in their work as much of the spiritual and social revolt as is expressed by the most fiery speech of the propagandist. And more important still, they compel far greater attention. Their creative genius, imbued with the spirit of sincerity and truth, strikes root where the ordinary word often falls on barren soil.

The reason that many radicals as well as conservatives fail to grasp the powerful message of art is perhaps not far to seek. The average radical is as hidebound by mere terms as the man devoid of all ideas. “Bloated plutocrats,” “economic determinism,” “class consciousness,” and similar expressions sum up for him the symbols of revolt. But since art speaks a language of its own, a language embracing the entire gamut of human emotions, it often sounds meaningless to those whose hearing has been dulled by the din of stereotyped phrases.

On the other hand, the conservative sees danger only in the advocacy of the Red Flag. He has too long been fed on the historic legend that it is only the “rabble” which makes revolutions, and not those who wield the brush or pen. It is therefore legitimate to applaud the artist and hound the rabble. Both radical and conservative have to learn that any mode of creative work, which with true perception portrays social wrongs earnestly and boldly, may be a greater menace to our social fabric and a more powerful inspiration than the wildest harangue of the soapbox orator.

Unfortunately, we in America have so far looked upon the theater as a place of amusement only, exclusive of ideas and inspiration. Because the modern drama of Europe has till recently been inaccessible in printed form to the average theater-goer in this country, he had to content himself with the interpretation, or rather misinterpretation, of our dramatic critics. As a result the social significance of the Modern Drama has well nigh been lost to the general public.

As to the native drama, America has so far produced very little worthy to be considered in a social light. Lacking the cultural and evolutionary tradition of the Old World, America has necessarily first to prepare the soil out of which sprouts creative genius.

The hundred and one springs of local and sectional life must have time to furrow their common channel into the seething sea of life at large, and social questions and problems make themselves felt, if not crystallized, before the throbbing pulse of the big national heart can find its reflex in a great literature– and specifically in the drama–of a social character. This evolution has been going on in this country for a considerable time, shaping the wide-spread unrest that is now beginning to assume more or less definite social form and expression.

Therefore, America could not so far produce its own social drama. But in proportion as the crystallization progresses, and sectional and national questions become clarified as fundamentally social problems, the drama develops. Indeed, very commendable beginnings in this direction have been made within recent years, among them “The Easiest Way,” by Eugene Walter, “Keeping Up Appearances,” and other plays by Butler Davenport, “Nowadays” and two other volumes of one-act plays, by George Middleton– attempts that hold out an encouraging promise for the future.

The Modern Drama, as all modern literature, mirrors the complex struggle of life–the struggle which, whatever its individual or topical expression, ever has its roots in the depth of human nature and social environment, and hence is, to that extent, universal. Such literature, such drama, is at once the reflex and the inspiration of mankind in its eternal seeking for things higher and better. Perhaps those who learn the great truths of the social travail in the school of life, do not need the message of the drama. But there is another class whose number is legion, for whom that message is indispensable. In countries where political oppression affects all classes, the best intellectual elements have made common cause with the people, have become their teachers, comrades, and spokesmen. But in America political pressure has so far affected only the “common” people. It is they who are thrown into prison; they who are persecuted and mobbed, tarred and deported. Therefore another medium is needed to arouse the intellectuals of this country, to make them realize their relation to the people, to the social unrest permeating the atmosphere.

The medium which has the power to do that is the Modern Drama, because it mirrors every phase of life and embraces every strata of society–the Modern Drama, showing each and all caught in the throes of the tremendous changes going on, and forced either to become part of the process or be left behind.

Ibsen, Strindberg, Hauptmann, Tolstoy, Shaw, Galsworthy and the other dramatists contained in this volume represent the social iconoclasts of our time. They know that society has gone beyond the stage of patching up, and that man must throw off the dead weight of the past, with all its ghosts and spooks, if he is to go foot free to meet the future.

This is the social significance which differentiates modern dramatic art from art for art’s sake. It is the dynamite which undermines superstition, shakes the social pillars, and prepares men and women for the reconstruction.

Please see my related posts

Third and Higher Order Cybernetics

Drama Therapy: Self in Performance

Drama Theory: Acting Strategically

Narrative Psychology: Language, Meaning, and Self

Drama Theory: Choices, Conflicts and Dilemmas

Psychology of Happiness: Value of Storytelling and Narrative Plays

Aesthetics and Ethics: At the Intersection

Arts and Moral Philosophy

Human Rights and Human Development

Key Sources of Research:

The Social Significance of the Modern Drama

Emma Goldman

http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/emma-goldman-the-social-significance-of-the-modern-drama

Click to access emma-goldman-the-social-significance-of-the-modern-drama.pdf

Click to access 0f485a3c9a2770d368acc6429ad9898700b4.pdf

The drama of resilience: learning, doing, and sharing for sustainability

Katrina Brown 1, Natalia Eernstman 2, Alexander R. Huke 3 and Nick Reding 4

https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol22/iss2/art8/

DRAMA THERAPY AS A FORM OF MODERN SHAMANISM

Susana Pendzik

Click to access trps-20-88-01-081.pdf

From Mirroring to World-Making: Research as Future Forming

Kenneth J. Gergen

https://works.swarthmore.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1796&context=fac-psychology

America’s Cracked Mirror: The Theatre In Our Society

Raymond Pentzell

Hillsdale College

America’s Cracked Mirror: The Theatre In Our Society

Stanford Repertory Theater and Planet Earth Arts tackle environmental and social justice issues

Stanford Repertory Theater and Planet Earth Arts tackle environmental and social justice issues

Social Mirrors and Shared Experiential Worlds

Charles Whitehead

Drama Therapy: Self in Performance

Drama Therapy: Self in Performance

 

 

From CIIS Catalog

“Drama Therapy, as one of the creative arts therapies [such as art, music, dance and poetry therapy] facilitates artistic expression-engendering clarity, mastery, meaning, and hope…. We choose from a wide array of adapted dramatic processes. Storytelling, improvisation, self-revelatory performance, life review, physical theatre, creative drama, puppetry, script pieces and more are tailored to the needs of a specific group or individual.”

 

California Institute of Integral Studies offers a graduate level degree in Drama therapy.

  • Therapy for the actors
  • Therapy for the audience

How does it work?  I am curious.  Are you?

How is it different from talk therapy? or group therapy?

  • Talking with a Psychiatrist
  • Talking in a group such as NA (Narcotics Anonymous), AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)

Why role playing helps in getting real and truthful?

  • Role Playing
  • Autobiographical
  • Self Revelatory

How is audience impacted?  How do they heal?

 

Self watching self.  Self experiencing self.

Witness Consciousness, Showing mirrors to each other.

Reflections of the self.  Self Illumination.

Sacred Mirrors.

If reality is holographic and recursive, it makes sense.

I admit I do not yet understand it all.  But I am trying and will continue to try and learn.

My artist friends.  Any suggestions?

 

Drama Therapy

Freedom and possibility are two key words that begin to describe the essence of drama therapy. Life is finite; there are only so many experiences we can have. But in drama, the opportunities and options are endless, enabling us to dive more deeply into the richness of life. And when the dramas are authentic and “real,” they have the power to affect, and even alter, our real lives profoundly. For the past thirty years, we have been investigating how therapeutically adapted dramatic processes work over time to heal wounds, facilitate lasting change, and help people reach their highest potential.

– Renée Emunah, Program Founder/Director


Please note: Please contact the Admissions Counselor, Skylar Hall, at 415-575-6122 or shall@ciis.edu for more information.

For more than 30 years, the CIIS Drama Therapy program has been steeped in the exploration of how therapeutically adapted dramatic processes work over time to heal wounds, facilitate lasting change, and help people reach their highest potential. Our program integrates experiential, didactic, and clinical courses in a carefully paced and sequenced curriculum, to train students to become personally and culturally aware, attuned, and competent drama therapists and psychotherapists.

Our program is one of the only master’s programs in the United States both regionally accredited and approved by the North American Drama Therapy Association, and is one of only a handful of such programs in the world. Furthermore, we are the only program that offers a path to the LPCC license. CIIS is internationally recognized as housing one of the world’s most highly developed and rigorous training programs for drama therapists.

Our graduates work in a variety of leadership positions and settings, including community mental health centers, private practice, schools and educational centers, organizations for serving LGBTQ communities, and clinics offering services for trauma, eating disorders, loss, and self-care.


Renée Emunah, the Founder and Chair of the Drama Therapy Program, is the co-editor a recent book:

The Self in Performance:  Autobiographical, Self-Revelatory, and Autoethnographic Forms of Therapeutic Theatre

Edited by Susana Pendzik, Renée Emunah, and David Read Johnson. New York and London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2016.

This book is the first to examine the performance of autobiographical material as a theatrical form, a research subject, and a therapeutic method. Contextualizing personal performance within psychological and theatrical paradigms, the book identifies and explores core concepts, such as the function of the director/therapist throughout the creative process, the role of the audience, and the dramaturgy involved in constructing such performances. International contributors address issues of identity, memory, authenticity, self-reflection, self-indulgence, and embodied self-representation in Autobiographical Therapeutic Performance, Self-Revelatory Performance, and Autoethnographic Performance.


9781137541536

Screen Shot 2019-11-29 at 8.51.57 AM

Key Terms

  • Identity
  • Memory
  • Authenticity
  • Self-reflection
  • Self-indulgence
  • Embodied self-representation
  • Autobiographical Therapeutic Performance
  • Self-Revelatory Performance
  • Autoethnographic Performance
  • Mirrors of the soul
  • Witness Consciousness

Books for further details

Acting for Real: Drama Therapy Process, Technique, and Performance

Renee Emunah

The Self in Performance

Autobiographical, Self-Revelatory, and Autoethnographic Forms of Therapeutic Theatre

Editors: Pendzik, Susana, Emunah, Renée, Read Johnson, David (Eds.)

 

 

 

Self-Revelatory Performance: The Intentional Use of Theatre’s Therapeutic Nature

Leah Shapiro
Connecticut College, l.shapiro323@gmail.com

 

http://digitalcommons.conncoll.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1005&context=theathp

 

 

What is Drama Therapy?

North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA)

https://www.nadta.org/what-is-drama-therapy.html

 

 

Tales of Transformation: Drama Therapy in Hospitals

Click to access webinar_WhippleDramaTherapy2012.pdf

 

 

DRAMA THERAPY

AS A FORM OF MODERN SHAMANISM

Susana Pendzik

 

Click to access trps-20-88-01-081.pdf

 

 

 

“Working Through the Drama: The Art of Drama Therapy.”

A Theatre Bay Area article by Jean Shiffman about studying Drama Therapy at CIIS

 

Working Through the Drama: The Art of Drama Therapy

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

 By Jean Schiffman

  If you’re an actor who yearns to do more with your acquired skills than perform, if you’re inclined toward helping others, if you’re attracted to psychotherapy and counseling and if an eventual steady paycheck sounds inviting, you might want to consider a career in drama therapy (DT). If so, you won’t need to move—San Francisco boasts one of the best DT programs in the country, at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). In fact, this is one of only a few master’s programs in the field that are both regionally accredited (by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges) and approved by the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA), and one of only a handful of such programs in the world, according to the CIIS catalog. (Others in North America are at NYU, Concordia University in Montreal and Lesley University in Boston.) Completing the two-and-a-half- to three-year program meets academic requirements to become registered drama therapists and fulfills the academic requirements for a Marriage and Family Therapist license in California.


In Transit: Braking at the Intersections, a 2013 production of the California Institute of
Integral Studies Drama Therapy Program’s Theatre of Change project. Photo: Lonny Shavelson

  DT, according to NADTA, is “the intentional use of drama and/or theater processes to achieve therapeutic goals.” It “can provide the context for participants to tell their stories, set goals and solve problems, express feelings, or achieve catharsis. Through drama, the depth and breadth of inner experience can be actively explored and interpersonal relationship skills can be enhanced. Participants can expand their repertoire of dramatic roles to find that their own life roles have been strengthened.”

 The CIIS program, which utilizes “theoretical, practical/clinical and experiential formats,” was founded and is directed by Renée Emunah, who first began the program in 1983 at Antioch University San Francisco before moving it to CIIS in 1989. With a PhD in clinical psychology and an MA combining theatre arts and clinical psychology (from San Francisco State), Emunah studied DT in England before it became a field in the US in 1979. She was one of the first four drama therapists to become officially registered in the United States.
In September I sat in one of her first-semester classes, Drama Therapy Process and Technique, to get a feeling for what kinds of students are attracted to the field. The group of about 18 skewed toward 20-something (with one in her mid-50s)—an articulate, intently focused group, mostly women, mostly but not entirely white, a few foreign accents and one hijab among them. They sat on the floor hunched over notebooks for a PowerPoint lecture (followed by a group discussion) on the topic of the day, which was the difference between psychodrama and DT. Basically, DT includes the fictional among its tools (Emunah paraphrases Oscar Wilde: “Give a person a mask, and they will tell the truth”) and is useful for groups; psychodrama is more individual-focused, deals more with straight autobiographical facts and leans less on dramatic skills.

 A typical first-year group, or “cohort,” like this one will stick together for the entire program, taking many of their classes together. They were admitted through a competitive process involving an interview and some group activities to gauge their potential skills in interrelating, intuition and such, after which only about a third are accepted. They are required to have at least some theatre background (the majority have a BFA in theatre) and to be in individual psychotherapy for at least 50 hours during their training (which is true for all psychology and counseling masters programs at CIIS). Despite a heavy weekly workload—perhaps four to five three-hour classes—most also work 15 to 20 hours. Financial aid and a few scholarships are available.

 The first year, while academically intense, might be more fun—if “fun” is an appropriate word to use for such rigorous training—than the extremely challenging second year, when students have a practicum, which is an internship in the field (on site 17 hours a week) along with their coursework.

 Although the day I was there was a traditional but informal lecture-style class, experiential classwork is a large part of the curriculum. As the catalog states, “Drama Therapy, as one of the creative arts therapies [such as art, music, dance and poetry therapy] facilitates artistic expression-engendering clarity, mastery, meaning, and hope…. We choose from a wide array of adapted dramatic processes. Storytelling, improvisation, self-revelatory performance, life review, physical theatre, creative drama, puppetry, script pieces and more are tailored to the needs of a specific group or individual.” Emunah teaches a five-phase integrative model in which drama therapists lead clients in a steadily progressive, carefully plotted journey of healing. Students practice these methods in the classroom, working together as though in a therapeutic environment.

 “There’s quite a bit of reading, of paper-writing, academic writing,” explains Emunah. “There are many publications in the field and lots of methods and approaches. Obviously their own material is evoked in the processes, but it’s a training program to become drama therapists, so we stress that meta-level and observational skill. That can be challenging. It’s not a drama therapy group; it’s class, [but] they can’t just be sitting and taking notes.” One class, for example, is geared to the application of DT in different facilities and age groups, and students practice being in the role of drama therapist while others simulate potential clients. The balance is between experiential classes and psychology classes. In lieu of a formal written thesis at the end, or making a documentary video, or directing a therapeutic “performance,” most students opt to create a “self-revelatory” piece: a scripted, deeply personal, 30- to 45-minute performance that differs from an autobiographical solo show (such as Brian Copeland’s revealing Not a Genuine Black Man) in that the student is not “telling a story” as such but rather is working through an emotional issue. “There’s a sense of suspense in terms of unraveling the multiple strands of healing,” explains Emunah, “but not a pat resolution or quick fix.” Some students have taken their “self-revs” into the mainstream theatre world, performing in festivals.

 

Renee Emunah’s Drama Therapy Process and Technique class at the California Institute of Integral Studies, October 2014.

Photo: Maya Grodman

 In the weeks before I attended the class, the students had—along with academic reading and other classes—played a variety of theatre games familiar to actors who have had basic acting and/or improv training: back-to-back nonverbal conversations; repetitive exchange of lines à la Sanford Meisner (“I want it”/”You can’t have it”) and the more objective-oriented “I want [fill in the blank with something you really want]”/”You can have it”; throwing an imaginary ball around a circle; blind walks (a trust exercise); a blind touch and smell sensory awareness-type exercise; a form of “emotional statues”; creating a scene for characters in conflict. Students keep a journal of the insights they’ve gained. Of the sensory exercise, one student wrote, “It was a different, new experience when miming in a group where the focus is not on the artistic side of it but on the playful, spontaneous, creative side.” One student wrote about a comedic improvisation involving three loud and rude Americans going into a strictly halal restaurant in Jordan and the cultural-political discussion that followed. “This scene really demonstrated just how powerful this work can be!” she wrote.

 There is a decidedly aesthetic component to the practice of DT; as a student wrote in her journal, “A drama therapist needs to identify as a drama/theatre artist.” Armand Volkas, a Marriage and Family Therapist and registered drama therapist with a private practice (the East Bay’s Living Arts Counseling Center, with a focus on “drama and expressive arts therapy”), emphasizes that point: “The more aesthetic you can make therapy, the more transformative it will be.” Volkas also teaches advanced improv and “Drama Therapy and Social Change” at CIIS. He started out by studying acting at UCLA, but when he codirected a theatre piece about children of Holocaust survivors (as he is himself) and realized how therapeutic it was, he knew he needed to apply theatre skills in a nontraditional way. He points out that DT emerged from several sources: ritual, shamanism, play therapy and—perhaps mostly importantly—the experimental theatre movement.
Volkas thinks DT is a field that more traditional therapists don’t take seriously. “I think they see the power of it, and it scares them,” he theorizes, “to get out of their chairs and into action.”

 Acting, he continues, requires a certain kind of narcissism. “It’s about you as an instrument—finding an agent, getting work. But when you’re a drama therapist, it’s not about you. It’s not the mommy-look-at-me impulse any more. You’re using your tools in the service of someone else. So you need to have the impulse to be a servant. To make the world a better place. [But] you don’t throw aesthetics out the window, although you have to adjust it because you’re working with people [your clients] who are not skilled. But when you think of the aha! moment of your life, it has an aesthetic quality. So that’s an important value in DT—to strive for an aesthetic even as a therapeutic goal. In a way you’re creating new memories and you’re rewiring the brain, so that when the person thinks of trauma, it can be rerouted to the new, reparative experience.”    

 Volkas has used his DT and theatre skills in a variety of innovative ways, including teaching a process he calls “Healing the Wounds of History,” an approach to intercultural conflict and collective trauma. He trains drama therapists in his method, then invites a group in historical conflict (say, Turks and Armenians) to engage in a therapeutic process in which they might look at things like “the art of apology.” “An apology is a performance,” he says. “The tools of Method acting apply: how do you make an apology real? These are existential and spiritual questions for groups in conflict, where there’s enormous trauma. How do you heal trauma? Theatre and DT are wonderful tools to research those kinds of questions.” He also works with clients to create the same type of self-revelatory theatre pieces that CIIS students perform as a thesis; the client then performs for an invited audience.

  Pamela Greenberg with auxiliary actors performing in her capstone self-revelatory performance for

California Institute of Integral Studies’ Drama Therapy Program. Photo: Courtesy of CIIS

 The drama therapists I talked to who’d completed the masters program at CIIS were enthusiastic—and employed. Aileen Cho, who had been a theatre major at UC San Diego with an interest in theatre for the oppressed and theatre for social change, working in commercials was unfulfilling. She’d been in traditional talk therapy herself, and when she started Googling around for ideas, she was surprised to discover DT. She’d always known theatre was a powerful tool for change, but thought, Wow, this can be applied in a clinical setting? The master’s program turned out to be the most intense thing she has ever done. She and her cohorts used to jokingly call it “trauma therapy.” Her practicums included working with veterans with PTSD, with teens in Oakland schools and in a residential program for eating disorders, which has turned out to be her niche. “The experiential stuff was the most challenging,” she reports. “They expect you to use your self and your life and personal stuff to experience the modality in DT. There’s always a fine line between therapy and not-therapy. It was very demanding academically and personally on all levels.” She became so close to her cohorts that they are now lifelong friends. “I’ve had close bonds with cast members, but this is a whole other level,” she says. Now Cho works in residential and partial hospitalization and intensive programs for eating disorders, specializing in DT; maintains a private practice; and works with Volkas’s performance programs as well as performing with a troupe of drama therapists at CIIS.

 Like Cho, Jennifer Stuckert—who has a BFA in acting from NYU and has performed on Bay Area stages—discovered DT via Google. She wanted more autonomy over her career, and a steadier income. And she’d always been interested in psychologically driven theatre about interpersonal and social issues. When she took an introductory class at the New School in New York, she fell in love with the field. So two years after receiving her BFA, she applied to CIIS. She was surprised, she says, at just how challenging the program was. “It was scary at times, too,” she says, “and surprising: learning how to not have compassion fatigue, learning how to have boundaries, even mental boundaries—be able to let go as you would let go of a role at the end of a show and return to yourself.” She says it takes ego strength and self-awareness to do this kind of work. “It’s not about you,” she adds. “You can bring your authenticity and your empathy and your love for narrative, but you have to want to help people. That’s not easy.” But she loved the program and finds this career path to be rich and rewarding. She now works as a drama therapist at Volkas’s Living Arts Counseling Center, has started moving toward sex therapy—and is heading to L.A. to pursue film work.

 And Emily Burleson, who is a drama therapist at a Jewish K-8 school in Oakland, says that she was drawn to the field by the same impulses that drew her to theatre. Theatre had been healing for her and she wanted to share that with others. But she also didn’t understand how the healing really happened, what that magic was—plus it depended on her being in a show. She needed “better access to whatever would provide me with that. Drama therapy training connected those dots for me.”

 Burleson attended the CIIS program from 2009 to 2012. She liked the emphasis on, “instead of diving directly into a client’s own story, placing it into a fairy tale or investigative frame, a heightened reality that makes it exciting rather than depressing or terrifying or upsetting.” She was thrilled to go to school with “psychology and theatre geeks.” The hard part was the practicum, which for her was at a psychiatric hospital and required “a lot of grit and compassion.” When she made it through to the end of that year, she felt fantastic. Now she realizes that the magic she was seeking happens when she helps another person to reach a deeper sense of peace and healing. Then she too receives the benefits.

 Finally, what kind of jobs do DT graduates get? Cho says that she and her colleagues are good at getting work, because DT is unique, and “there are not that many of us.” The majority of CIIS graduates work in community mental health, largely with groups, says Emunah: with emotionally disturbed children, at women’s shelters, in chemical dependency or eating disorders programs. A smaller percentage build a private practice, working with individuals. Many, like Aileen Cho, continue to find ways to satisfy their acting itch as they’re working as drama therapists.

 Visit ciis.edu or call (415) 575-6230. You can also read about the field in Renée Emunah’s book Acting for Real: Drama Therapy Process, Technique and Performance. And the Living Arts Counseling Center (livingartscounseling.org) offers exploratory sessions; call (510) 595-5500, ext. 10.

   Jean Schiffman is an arts writer based in San Francisco.

Drama Theory: Acting Strategically

Drama Theory: Acting Strategically

 

 

Key Terms

  • Pradoxes of Rationality
  • Metagame Analysis
  • Confrontation Analysis
  • Game Theory
  • Drama Theory
  • Conflict
  • Resolution
  • Dilemmas
  • Rationality
  • Rational choice
  • Preference change
  • Emotions
  • Humanities
  • Art and Culture
  • Bharata Muni Natya Shastra
  • Aristotle’s Poetics
  • Integral Theory
  • Ken Wilber
  • Problem Structuring Methods

From Acting Strategically Using Drama Theory

In today’s confrontational and connected world, communication is the key strategic act. This book uses drama theory—a radical extension of game theory—to show how best to communicate so as to manage the emotionally charged confrontations occurring in any worthwhile relationship. Alongside a toolset that provides a systematic framework for analysing conflicts, drama theory explains why people need to listen to, and rely on, their feelings to help shake themselves out of fixed, unproductive positions and to find new ways of solving tough problems.

This guide provides a sufficient grounding in the approach to enable you to apply it immediately for your own benefit and for the benefit of those with whom you work. A host of inspirational examples are included based upon actual situations in social and personal relations, business and organisational relations, defence and political management. These will give you an entirely fresh way of seeing how power is exercised in everyday interpersonal exchanges and a greater critical awareness of such factors as subtext and plotholes in public narratives. Using this approach you will be able to overcome the dilemmas of credibility and disbelief to build compelling messages that underpin your strategic intent. Moving beyond the vague platitudes of concepts like emotional intelligence, drama theory will also help you to avoid the pathologies that bedevil the process of managing conflicts and find ways of achieving authentic resolutions.

Please see my related post

Drama Theory: Choices, Conflicts and Dilemmas

Key Sources of Research

Problem structuring methods in action

John Mingers a,*, Jonathan Rosenhead

 

Click to access Problem-Structuring-Methods-in-Action.pdf

 

Confrontation Analysis: a Command and Control System for Conflicts Other Than War*

Peter Murray-Jones

Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, Portsdown West, Hants, PO17 6AD UK pmurrayjones@dera.gov.uk

Nigel Howard

ISCO Ltd, 10 Bloomfield Road, Birmingham B13 9BY UK

 

Click to access 042howar.pdf

 

 

Co-ordinated Positions in a Drama-theoretic Confrontation: Mathematical Foundations for a PO Decision Support System

Peter Murray-Jones
(DERA)
Nigel Howard
(dramatec)
12 Chesham Road, Brighton BN2 1NB, UK Tel.: +44 1273 67 45 86
e-mail: nhoward@dramatec.com)

 

Click to access 076_tr6.pdf

Game Theory and the Humanities: Bridging Two Worlds

By Steven J. Brams

 

 

 

Strategic and Dilemma Analysis of a Water Export Conflict

ftp://ftp.theochem.ru.nl/pub/toinesmits/PDF_files_supporting_literature_24%2625-11-2009/2005ObeidiStrategic%20and%20dilemma%20analyses%20of.pdf

 

 

Game Theory and Literature

Steven Brams

Click to access brams1994.pdf

 

 

 

Decision Making Using Game Theory: An Introduction for Managers

An introduction for managers

Anthony Kelly

Click to access Decision-Making-Using-Game-Theory-An-Introduction-for-Managers.pdf

 

 

Foundation of Subjective Confrontation Analysis

Pri Hermawan1, Kyoichi Kijima2*

 

http://journals.isss.org/index.php/proceedings50th/article/download/334/107

 

 

 

 

Drama, Emotion, and Cultural Convergence

D. Lawrence Kincaid

 

Click to access Kincaid%20drama.pdf

 

 

 

DRAMA THEORY AND METAGAME ANALYSIS

Nigel Howard

Click to access 666923c54a0189c888080db4e5b8c4529783.pdf

Drama theory: dispelling the myths

J Bryant

Manifesto for a Theory of Drama and Irrational Choice

Nigel Howard, Peter Bennet, Jim Bryant & Morris Bradley

Drama theory and its relation to game theory. Part 1: Dramatic resolution vs. Rational solution

  • Nigel Howard

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01384354

Drama theory and its relation to game theory. Part 2: Formal model of the resolution process

  • Nigel Howard

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01384355

The Sanskrit Drama in Its Origin, Development, Theory & Practice

By Arthur Berriedale Keith

Click to access 2015.102820.The-Sanskrit-Drama-In-Its-Origin-Development-Theory-And-Practice.pdf

Rationality, emotion and preference change Drama-theoretic models of choice

Drama Theory: Choices, Conflicts and Dilemmas

Drama Theory: Choices, Conflicts and Dilemmas

 

Key Terms

  • Scenes
  • Scenario
  • Games
  • Conflicts
  • Cooperation
  • Agreements
  • Harmony
  • Dissonance
  • Dilemma
  • Drama Theory
  • Game Theory
  • Rationality
  • Irrationality
  • Choices
  • Interdependent Decisions
  • Operations Research
  • Chain of Events
  • Situations
  • Cascading effects
  • Situational Awareness
  • Paradoxes
  • Uncertainty
  • Complexity
  • Human Fragility
  • Human Fallibility
  • Outcomes / Results
  • Social Landscape
  • Natya Shastra
  • Social Simulation
  • Social Interaction
  • Social Psychology
  • Hermenutics
  • Inter-subjective Interpretation
  • Inter-objective Analysis
  • Art and Culture
  • Humanities Vs Science
  • Culture Vs Nature

 

I discuss below Pakistani TV Dramas as an example of drama theory.

 

Pakistani TV Drama Serials

Recently I was introduced to Pakistani TV Dramas.  They are in Urdu/Hindi language and available on Youtube for free.  I list selected ones below. The ones I have seen so far.

  • Baaghi
  • Sangat
  • Digest Writer
  • Mein Sitara

Pakistani actor Saba Qamar plays leading role in each of the dramas.  Her performance in each one is the finest and classiest I have seen in Cinema/TV Drama/Movies.  In each of these dramas, main character played by Saba Qamar is faced by choices, desires, ambitions, conflicts, and family responsibilities in a society where women abuse, corruption, self interest, deceit, cunning, manipulation, extortion, exploitation, poverty, rich-poor divide, rural-urban divide, men in power, english/urdu divide, and religious/cultural/social/family norms and traditions define her ecosystem and its limits and boundaries..

She is faced with issues of societal respect, approval, and morality in contemporary pakistani society.  What would people say? What would family say? Society matters.  Family matters.  Choices and dilemmas she faces and actions/decisions she takes define her life.  Outcomes of the dramas display human fragility, fallibility, and sometimes profile in courage.

Sequence of events is dependent on interdependent decisions and actions by the characters in the drama.

Path taken creates the path dependency.  There are no retreats.  Future is threatened. Only rise or fall ahead. Fame and fortune or shame and failure.

Lost in this ecosystem is love, innocence, and simplicity.

While navigating her life in harsh and cruel world, she preserves her innate goodness, and unfathomable grace.

As a responsible and loving mother. As a responsible daughter and sister.

As a human being.

Saba Qamar brings in unmatched depth and sensitivity to her performance in each of the drama I listed above. Ofcourse, all other characters create the situations and dilemmas for her.

What should she do?  Her choices and dilemmas

What does she do?  Her actions and decisions

What should she have done? Society/Viewers value systems / World views/Opinions

Are there alternative desired outcomes?  Reflection, Learning, Insights, Changes, and Modifications

 

 

Drama Theory From Wikipedia

Drama theory is one of the problem structuring methods in operations research. It is based on game theory and adapts the use of games to complex organisational situations, accounting for emotional responses that can provoke irrational reactions and lead the players to redefine the game. In a drama, emotions trigger rationalizations that create changes in the game, and so change follows change until either all conflicts are resolved or action becomes necessary. The game as redefined is then played.

Drama theory was devised by Professor Nigel Howard in the early 90s and, since then, has been turned to defense, political, health, industrial relations and commercial applications. Drama theory is an extension of Howard’s metagame analysis work developed at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1960s, and presented formally in his book “Paradoxes of Rationality”, published by MIT Press. Metagame analysis was originally used to advise on the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT).

Basics of drama theory

A drama unfolds through episodes in which characters interact. The episode is a period of preplay communication between characters who, after communicating, act as players in a game that’s constructed through the dialogue between them. The action that follows the episode is the playing out of this game; it sets up the next episode. Most drama-theoretic terminology is derived from a theatrical model applied to real life interactions; thus, an episode goes through phases of scene-setting, build-up, climax and decision. This is followed by denouement, which is the action that sets up the next episode. The term ‘drama theory’ and the use of theatrical terminology is justified by the fact that the theory applies to stage plays and fictional plots as well as to politics, war, business, personal and community relations, psychology, history and other kinds of human interaction. It was applied to help with the structuring of Prisoner’s Dilemma, a West End play by David Edgar about the problems of peace-keeping.

In the build-up phase of an episode, the characters exchange ideas and opinions in some form or another and try to advocate their preferred position – the game outcome that they are hoping to see realised. The position each character takes may be influenced by others’ positions. Each character also presents a fallback or stated intention. This is the action (i.e., individual strategy) a character says it will implement if current positions and stated intentions do not change. Taken together, the stated intentions form what is called a threatened future if they contradict some character’s position; if they do not – i.e., if they implement every position – they form what is called an agreement.

When it is common knowledge among the characters that positions and stated intentions are seen by their presenters as ‘final’, the build-up ends and the parties reach a moment of truth. Here they usually face dilemmas arising from the fact that their threats or promises are incredible or inadequate. Different dilemmas are possible depending on whether or not there is an agreement. If there is an agreement (i.e., stated intentions implement every position), the possible dilemmas resemble those found in the prisoner’s dilemma game; they arise from characters distrusting each other’s declared intention to implement the agreement. If there is no agreement, more dilemmas are possible, resembling those in the game of chicken; they arise from the fact that a character’s threat or its determination to stick to its position and reject other positions may be incredible to another character.

Drama theory asserts that a character faced with a dilemma feels specific positive or negative emotions that it tries to rationalize by persuading itself and others that the game should be redefined in a way that eliminates the dilemma; for example, a character with an incredible threat makes it credible by becoming angry and finding reasons why it should prefer to carry out the threat; likewise, a character with an incredible promise feels positive emotion toward the other as it looks for reasons why it should prefer to carry its promise. Emotional tension leads to the climax, where characters re-define the moment of truth by finding rationalizations for changing positions, stated intentions, preferences, options or the set of characters. There is some experimental evidence to confirm this assertion of drama theory (see P. Murray-Jones, L. Stubbs and N. Howard, ‘Confrontation and Collaboration Analysis: Experimental and Mathematical Results’, presented at the 8th International Command & Control Research and Technology Symposium, June, 2003—from whose site it can be downloaded.

Six dilemmas (formerly called paradoxes) are defined, and it is proved that if none of them exist then the characters have an agreement that they fully trust each other to carry out. This is the fundamental theorem of drama theory. Until a resolution meeting these conditions is arrived at, the characters are under emotional pressure to rationalize re-definitions of the game that they will play. Re-definitions inspired by new dilemmas then follow each other until eventually, with or without a resolution, characters become players in the game they have defined for themselves. In game-theoretic terms, this is a ‘game with a focal point’ – i.e., it is a game in which each player has stated its intention to implement a certain strategy. This strategy is its threat (part of the threatened future) if an agreement has not been reached, and its promise (part of the agreement), if an agreement has been reached. At this point, players (since they are playing a game) decide whether to believe each other, and so to predict what others will do in order to decide what to do themselves.

Dilemmas defined in drama theory

The dilemmas that character A may face with respect to another character B at a moment of truth are as follows.

  1. A’s cooperation dilemma: B doesn’t believe A would carry out its actual or putative promise to implement B’s position.
  2. A’s trust dilemma: A doesn’t believe B would carry out its actual or putative promise to implement A’s position.
  3. A’s persuasion (also known as Deterrence) dilemma: B certainly prefers the threatened future to A’s position.
  4. A’s rejection (also known as Inducement) dilemma: A may prefer B’s position to the threatened future.
  5. A’s threat dilemma: B doesn’t believe A would carry out its threat not to implement B’s position.
  6. A’s positioning dilemma: A prefers B’s position to its own, but rejects it (usually because A considers B’s position to be unrealistic).

Relationship to game theory

Drama-theorists build and analyze models (called card tables or options boards) that are isomorphic to game models, but unlike game theorists and most other model-builders, do not do so with the aim of finding a ‘solution’. Instead, the aim is to find the dilemmas facing characters and so help to predict how they will re-define the model itself – i.e., the game that will be played. Such prediction requires not only analysis of the model and its dilemmas, but also exploration of the reality outside the model; without this it is impossible to decide which ways of changing the model in order to eliminate dilemmas might be rationalized by the characters.

The relation between drama theory and game theory is complementary in nature. Game theory does not explain how the game that is played is arrived at – i.e., how players select a small number of players and strategies from the virtually infinite set they could select, and how they arrive at common knowledge about each other’s selections and preferences for the resulting combinations of strategies. Drama theory tries to explain this, and also to explain how the ‘focal point’ is arrived at for the ‘game with a focal point’ that is finally played. On the other hand, drama theory does not explain how players will act when they finally have to play a particular ‘game with a focal point’, even though it has to make assumptions about this. This is what game theory tries to explain and predict.

See also

References

  • N. Howard, ‘Confrontation Analysis’, CCRP Publications, 1999. Available from the CCRP website.
  • P. Bennett, J. Bryant and N. Howard, ‘Drama Theory and Confrontation Analysis’ — can be found (along with other recent PSM methods) in: J. V. Rosenhead and J. Mingers (eds) Rational Analysis for a Problematic World Revisited: problem structuring methods for complexity, uncertainty and conflict, Wiley, 2001.

Further reading

  • J. Bryant, The Six Dilemmas of Collaboration: inter-organisational relationships as drama, Wiley, 2003.
  • N. Howard, Paradoxes of Rationality‘, MIT Press, 1971.