Scenario generation and scenario quality using the cone of plausibility

Dhami, Mandeep K. ORCID logoORCID:, Wicke, Lars and Onkal, Dilek (2022) Scenario generation and scenario quality using the cone of plausibility. Futures, 142 , 102995. pp. 1-11. ISSN 0016-3287 [Article] (doi:10.1016/j.futures.2022.102995)

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The intelligence analysis domain is a critical area for futures work. Indeed, intelligence analysts’ judgments of security threats are based on considerations of how futures may unfold, and as such play a vital role in informing policy- and decision-making. In this domain, futures are typically considered using qualitative scenario generation techniques such as the cone of plausibility (CoP). We empirically examined the quality of scenarios generated using this technique on five criteria: completeness, context (otherwise known as ‘relevance/pertinence’), plausibility, coherence, and order effects (i.e., ‘transparency’). Participants were trained to use the CoP and then asked to generate scenarios that might follow within six months of the Turkish government banning Syrian refugees from entering the country. On average, participants generated three scenarios, and these could be characterized as baseline, best case, and worst case. All scenarios were significantly more likely to be of high quality on the ‘coherence’ criterion compared to the other criteria. Scenario quality was independent of scenario type. However, scenarios generated first were significantly more likely to be of high quality on the context and order effects criteria compared to those generated afterwards. We discuss the implications of these findings for the use of the CoP as well as other qualitative scenario generation techniques in futures studies.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
Item ID: 35401
Notes on copyright: Copyright: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
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Depositing User: Mandeep Dhami
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2022 13:54
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2022 10:44

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