Waring, K., Alison, L., Cunningham, S., & Whitfield, K. (2013). The impact of accountability on motivational goals and the quality of advice provided in crisis negotiations. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 19(2), 137-150. doi: 10.1037/a0030629.
| Link to article in Psychology, Public Policy, and Law |
Abstract This study investigated the impact of accountability on motivation for self-preservation and the quality of advice provided by negotiator advisors in a simulated suicide intervention. Accountability was manipulated across five sequential developments by increasing risk to lives and level of involvement in terms of tailoring advice to the situation. Seventy-seven police officers acted as negotiator advisors and rated their own perceived levels of accountability and motivational priorities regarding saving lives or self-preservation (protecting self from negative evaluation) at each point. At early stages within the incident, accountability was at its lowest point and was positively correlated with motivation to save lives. At latter stages (after a fatality), accountability was significantly elevated and significantly positively correlated with motivation for self-preservation. Further, at latter stages of the incident, accountability was negatively correlated with effective discrimination between relevant and irrelevant information (measured against a “gold standard” conducted with a panel of expert negotiators in the absence of time pressure). Thus, as perceived accountability increased, effective discrimination decreased. Findings indicate that especially high levels of accountability may hinder performance by compromising advisors’ effectiveness in discriminating between relevant and irrelevant information. This may be a function of accountability encouraging the use of cognitively complex strategies, leading to an increase in cognitive load. The practical and theoretical implications of this are discussed.