Note: This post represents the synthesis of the thoughts, procedures and experiences of others as represented in the articles read in advance (see previous posts) and the discussion among the students and instructor during the Advanced Analytic Techniques class at Mercyhurst University, in October 2018 regarding Role Playing as an Analytic Method, specifically. This technique was evaluated based on its overall validity, simplicity, flexibility and its ability to effectively use unstructured data.
Role playing is the act of embodying a character or the behavior of someone who is different from yourself. In an intelligence capacity, role playing is meant to help understand the behavior of a particular adversary, person, or organization of interest in general and how they are likely to act in a given situation. Role playing draws on similar fundamentals as red-teaming and devil’s advocacy but involves more immersive preparation by the analyst into understanding and subsequently ‘becoming’ the person or organization.
- There are indications that it is effective at forecasting events
- May provide insight into the thought processes of individuals and organizations
- Prepares for real-life situations
- Understanding of operational environment
- Effective for teaching
- Requires sufficient time to execute a role playing exercise
- Preparation time for the exercise itself is included in the overall time required to execute the exercise.
- Repetition of the exercise or running multiple exercises concurrently may unveil more potential outcomes
- Requires sufficient knowledge of the individual(s), organization(s), and scenario(s) to effectively create the world of the exercise
- Some individuals are more predisposed to fit into roles easily, others do not and therefore requires more time to become the role assigned
- Immerse yourself into the role of given character
- Immerse your character into the environment of the given situation
- Introduce the other characters involved in the scenario
- The actors of these characters will also complete steps 1 & 2
- Allow time for characters to identify courses of action for scenario
- Repeat multiple times (if possible)
**To capture the process of the methodology, it may be beneficial to implement a pre-test of assumptions, as well as a debriefing after the simulation. This will allow analysts to understand how role-playing shaped their final analysis.
Application of Technique:
Characters*: 11 cards, face down, each with a different “character” (e.g. coach, mom, alien, mime, child, etc.)
Modifiers*: 11 cards, face down, each with a different “modifier” (e.g. who is disgruntled, who is late for work, who has food poisoning, etc.)
Motivations*: 11 cards, face down, each with a different “motivation” (e.g. who needs to blow their nose, who wants to quit their job, who can’t find their car, who is trying to escape the apocalypse, etc.)
Lines*: 6 cards, face down, each with a different line (e.g. what time is it, can I bum a cigarette, have a nice day, etc. )
*the number of cards is arbitrary. We had enough option for each participant.
Participant picks a “character” card and looks at the card. Without speaking, s/he walks across the room embodying that character. Participant then picks a “modifier” card. Without speaking, s/he walks across the room embodying that character, now considering how that modifier changes the way s/he physically portrays the character. Participant picks a “motivation” card. Without speaking s/he walks across the room embodying that character, considering the modifier and now the motivation. Participant should be aware of how these additional pieces of information are influencing the way s/he moves across the room. Finally, participant picks a “line” card. This time, s/he walks across the room, keeping in mind the character, modifier, and motivation, but now delivering the line at any point.
This exercise allows participants to practice rapid character study. The purpose of not speaking in the first 3 steps is to teach participants the importance of actions and physicality. Building a character and successfully role playing demands that the participants study and collect information about their character before playing the role--in the case of this exercise, before delivering the line.
For Further Information:
- The Conversation Analytic Role-play Method (CARM)
- Using the Conversation Analytic Role-Play Method in healthcare interpreter education