Should you be optimistic going into negotiations?

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Two studies demonstrate that negotiation processes and outcomes can be altered by the creation of Positive Expectations. Study 1 participants were American undergraduates seeking agreement with a confederate about allocation of funds to programs differentially favoring undergraduates vs. graduates. Study 2 participants were Israeli Business School students seeking agreement with an Arab confederate about allocation of funds to projects differentially favoring Israelis vs. Palestinians. In both studies prior information suggesting the consistent success of previous dyads prompted acceptance of the confederate’s “final proposal” whereas merely urging participants to try to reach agreement resulted in consistent rejection of the same proposal. Moreover, participants reaching agreement in these Positive Expectations conditions subsequently offered more positive assessments of the negotiation process and of their counterpart than those doing so in control conditions. The theoretical and applied relevance of these findings, including the role played by post-agreement dissonance reduction, are discussed.

Source: “Achieving difficult agreements: Effects of Positive Expectations on negotiation processes and outcomes” from Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Volume 46, Issue 3, May 2010, Pages 494-504

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