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Date Published:Jan 1, 2008
Interactive problem solving is a form of unofficial diplomacy, centering on problem-solving workshops and related activities with political elites in conflicting societies. Its dual purpose is producing changes in individual participants that are transferred to the policy process. The most relevant criterion for evaluating the effectiveness of interactive problem solving is its contribution to changes in the political cultures of the parties that would make them more receptive to negotiation. The article describes the difficulties in evaluating such changes in political culture, because of the inapplicability of the standard experimental model of evaluation and the ethical and methodological obstacles to the use of procedures that may interfere with the practice of conflict resolution. It then presents two models of evaluation research, based on gradual accumulation of evidence in support of the assumptions of interactive problem solving: the "links-in-the-chain" model, testing by appropriate means each of the steps in the logic of the approach; and the experimental model, using a variety of settings for empirical tests of the assumptions of the approach.