Negotiation Theory and Research (3)

This will be my last post about the book. Below I have posted some observations from the second half of the book and some comments:

When we negotiate with others, we don’t just optimize economic payoffs. Process-concerns matter (e.g. stuff like reputation effects, whether people are perceived to behave in a fair manner during the negotiation, etc.), and ‘relationship management’-stuff may be very important. How well we know the other party and how much we trust him/her matters a lot: “As a general matter, it is easier for negotiators to reach integrative agreements if they already know and trust each other. For example, compared to mere acquaintances who negotiate, friends are more likely to achieve integrative agreements […] Friends are willing to sacrifice economic payoffs to reduce the conflict and negative externalities of negotiations […] When we negotiate with a friend, we prefer that our counterpart’s outcome be equal to our own; but when we negotiate with a stranger, we prefer to take more of the surplus for ourselves […] Regardless of the objective payoffs, positive relationships influence parties’ interpretations of those payoffs […] as a general matter, the stronger the relationship between negotiators, the more likely they are to share information (Greenhalgh & Chapman, 1998).”

“although we tend to rate ourselves more favorably than others on ambiguous traits like dependability, intelligence, and considerateness […], these ratings are likely to depend on the abstractness of the others in question. If the other is the “average person” then my comparison tends to be more favorable toward myself than if the other is an individual stranger sitting next to me […]. In other words, the less abstract the other person about whom I make a judgment, the more likely I am to judge that person as more similar to me. […] The “identifiable other” effect extends to other judgments besides estimates of personality traits. For example, people estimate that an “average person” making a decision will choose a riskier option than themselves, but that the stranger sitting next to them will choose a similar option to the one they just chose for themselves […]. Even more interesting for our purposes, the extent to which the other person is identifiable influences more than merely our judgments — it also affects our behavior toward other people. For example, responses to e-mail requests to participate in a survey have been shown to increase if the sender’s photograph is included in the e-mail, thereby making the person more identifiable […] people are more willing to help a target who is more identifiable than one who is more abstract, even when the act of identification conveys no information whatsoever about the characteristics of the target.”

“When we communicate via technology, we attend less to the other person and more on the message they are disseminating […]. This focus on the message has potential benefits. For example, in a study comparing negotiations that took place either over the phone or in person […], one negotiator in each dyad was given a strong case (i.e., a large number of high-quality arguments) to present whereas the other was assigned to present a weak case. The strong case was more successful in the phone condition (where negotiation partners were not visible) than in the face-to-face condition. By contrast, weak arguments were more successful when negotiations took place face to face as opposed to by phone. A clear implication of these findings is that the social constraint of the communication medium can affect the persuasion process that occurs during negotiations. […] communicating via technology can lead negotiators to focus more on the content or quality of arguments made by their negotiation partner rather than being (mis)led into agreement by more peripheral factors like those made salient in face-to-face interactions […] This greater focus on the message content can have particularly negative consequences when the content of the message that one receives is negative or confrontational. […] Ultimately, participants interacting via information technology often like their discussion partners less than those interacting face to face”.

A personal comment is perhaps worth inserting here: I generally don’t like debating ‘factual stuff’ offline in a social context where someone is openly disagreeing with me, certainly not when compared to doing the same thing online (I don’t like engaging in disagreements online either, but it’s not as bad), and part of the reason is a strong long-standing impression on my part that poor arguments are much, much harder to fight in a face-to-face interaction than they are in interactions taking place online. In the past I think I’ve mentally explained this in terms of me being ‘a bad communicator’/’not verbally skilled’ and similar stuff, but recently I have received some social feedback from face-to-face interactions suggesting that perhaps that’s not the (only?) reason (i.e. I’ve been given feedback to the effect that my verbal communication skills may be significantly better than I’ve tended to think they are). A conceptual distinction should probably in this context be made between communication and persuasion, though naturally there’s some overlap; the ability to accurately outline your point of view is to some extent different from the ability to convince others that your point of view is true, or perhaps that it is socially desirable to hold this point of view (the latter concern is presumably often a more salient factor in a social context than is the truth content of the competing positions). It’s become clear to me that being right has little to do with whether or not you’ll win a verbal/face-to-face argument, and that the skill-set required to actually win arguments of that sort is very different from the skill-set required to actually be right about stuff. Incidentally on an unrelated note I suspect especially the penultimate sentence in the paragraph above may be rather important for some people on the autism spectrum to keep in mind.

“McGinn and Croson (2004) argue that in settings where social perceptions and intimacy have not been established, such as negotiations between strangers, the lack of visual access, synchronicity, and efficacy inherent in e-mail can result in less cooperation, coordination, truth telling, and rapport building.[6] But where social perceptions and intimacy are already established, as in negotiations between friends, the medium might not make much or any difference. […] when communicators have positive-valenced goals such as relationship-building, computer-mediated interactions can be highly personal, resulting in the development of close relationships”

“Research by Bond (1983), Shweder and Bourne (1982), Miller (1984), and most recently Morris and Peng (1994), has documented that Asians [from East Asia, it should be emphasized] make more situational attributions while Americans make more dispositional ones. […] In non-Western [in the research context here, ‘non-Western’ = ‘East Asian’] cultures, social conceptions are group centered, reflecting interdependence […]. People believe that human behavior is constrained by roles and role constraints, by group norms to preserve relationships with others, and by scripts that prescribe proper situational behavior. This perspective is highly consistent with making situational attributions. It is also consistent with the hierarchical values of these cultures […] Given the same information about an event, people from different cultures give very different attributions […], and construct causal explanations that are consistent with their culturally instantiated belief system. […] these culturally linked attribution patterns [affect] perceptions, reasoning, and other cognitive processes, as well as negotiation and other behavior. […]  [East Asians] prefer expressing conflict in indirect ways, both verbally and especially behaviorally […]. From a verbal perspective, non-Westerners in conflict prefer using words whose meaning requires inference, for example, contempt rather than anger; words that are less blunt […] and words that are more ambiguous and “avoid leaving an assertive impression” […]. The behaviors that non-Westerners use to manage conflict are also indirect. There are many different types of indirect confrontation behaviors. One set involves using diffused voice, which means broadcasting concerns publicly to a diffused audience rather than directly to the other person […] Leung (1987) also showed that compared to Americans, Chinese preferred indirect procedures involving third parties, such as mediation, to direct face-to-face adversarial procedures, because the indirect procedures were seen as more conducive to reducing animosity among the parties. […] Similarly, Ohbuchi and Takahashi (1994) found that disputants in Japan used indirect strategies of ingratiation, impression management, and appeasement in order to deal with conflict.”

“Because gender may affect negotiation behavior in some situations and not others, when researchers compare results across studies and do not account for the different situational factors across these same studies, it may appear that gender has an inconsistent impact.”

“Stuhlmacher and Walters (1999) […] showed that, across a wide range of studies, gender differences in negotiated outcomes were greater in distributive negotiations than in integrative ones. […] Barron (2003) documented a striking divergence in how men and women determine their worth in salary negotiations. Whereas the vast majority of men indicated their worth was self-determined, the overwhelming majority of women felt that their worth was determined by what the company would pay them.”

January 20, 2015 - Posted by | Books, Psychology

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