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Robot Mediation: The Source of Creative Solutions
In a recent experiment Druckman et al (2021) explored the impacts of several mediation platforms on negotiation outcomes and perceptions. The results showed that more agreements and more integrative agreements were attained by a robotic platform than by humans, screens or no mediation. They also found that the robotic mediations produced more non-structured agreements (NSAs), that is, agreements based on decisions that were made outside the scenario options (‘out-of-the-box’ solutions). A suggested explanation for this finding is that negotiators responded to the novelty of the robot mediator which induced creative modes of thought. This article presents an attempt to probe the plausibility of this explanation. Analyses of the negotiation transcripts and interviews showed that more complex, explanations for the creative outcomes may be more plausible. Negotiators that produced NSA outcomes in the robot condition were more open and expressed more of a sense of “togetherness” than those in the human and non-NSA robot conditions. They also evinced more concern for fairness. Implications of these findings are discussed along with suggestions for further research.