Roleplaying is an activity where participants take on designated roles and act out characters according to predetermined situations, followed by an evaluation of the activity. People may choose from a range of set roles, for example, local council environment planner, environmentalist, surfrider, developer, natural resource manager and Chamber of Commerce member. By getting people to take on a role that may be unfamiliar to them, this process enhances understanding of the issue from another perspective. However, role-playing requires skilled facilitation, and everyone must be 'de-briefed' and clearly directed to step out of role and return to their own persona before leaving the exercise, or confusion can ensue.
Highly useful as an ice breaker, to get people talking and interacting with one another about the issue, and also to gain some empathy for the position of other stakeholders.
Role playing can involve risks. A person must try to understand another's point of view to the extent that they can act in ways that are appropriate and recognisable.
This page originally copied with permission from the Citizens Science Toolbox