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When, Where and How: The Use of Multidimensional Scaling Methods in the Study of Negotiation and Social Conflict

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MDS (multidimensional scaling) is a technique that enables researchers to uncover the spatial representation or "hidden structure" that underlies and defines behavioral data – such as negotiator or disputant perceptions and preferences. Although MDS has wide-ranging theoretical and applied appeal, it has been highly underutilized in the conflict and negotiation literature. In this paper, we seek to illustrate the promise that MDS offers in the study of conflict and negotiation. We begin with a discussion of how MDS can be differentiated from other multivariate techniques, such as factor analysis. Next we provide a brief overview of multidimensional scaling techniques – highlighting the various methods available for collecting proximity data and the computer analysis programs that can be used to analyze them. We further review the nature of the results and the ways in which they are interpreted. We conclude with some examples of the types of questions that have been addressed using MDS in the conflict and negotiation literature and a discussion about the promise this technique has for future research.


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