Affect effect

Affect Effect

Dispositional affects or moods affect the various stages of the negotiation process: which strategies are planned to be used, which strategies are actually chosen, the way the other party and his or her intentions are perceived, their willingness to reach an agreement and the final negotiated outcomes. Positive affectivity (PA) and negative affectivity (NA) of one or more of the negotiating sides can lead to very different outcomes.

Positive Affect in Negotiation

Even before the negotiation process starts, people in a positive mood have more confidence, and higher tendencies to plan to use a cooperative strategy. During the negotiation, negotiators who are in a positive mood tend to enjoy the interaction more, show less contentious behavior, use less aggressive tactics and more cooperative strategies. This in turn increases the likelihood that parties will reach their instrumental goals, and enhance the ability to find integrative gains. Indeed, compared with negotiators with negative or natural affectivity, negotiators with positive affectivity reached more agreements and tended to honor those agreements more.

Negative Affect in Negotiation

Negative affect has detrimental effects on various stages in the negotiation process. Although various negative emotions affect negotiation outcomes, by far the most researched is anger. Angry negotiators plan to use more competitive strategies and to cooperate less, even before the negotiation starts. These competitive strategies are related to reduce joint outcomes. During negotiations, anger disrupts the process by reducing the level of trust, clouding parties' judgment, narrowing parties' focus of attention and changing their central goal from reaching agreement to retaliating against the other side. Angry negotiators pay less attention to opponent's interests and are less accurate in judging their interests, thus achieve lower joint gains. Moreover, because anger makes negotiators more self-centered in their preferences, it increases the likelihood that they will reject profitable offers. Opponents who really get angry (or cry, or otherwise lose control) are more likely to make errors: make sure they are in your favor. Anger does not help in achieving negotiation goals either: it reduces joint gains and does not help to boost personal gains, as angry negotiators do not succeed in claiming more for them.

The Effect of the Partner's Emotions

Partner's emotions can have two basic effects on negotiator's emotions and behavior: mimetic/ reciprocal or complementary. For example, disappointment or sadness might lead to compassion and more cooperation. In a study by Butt et al. (2005) which simulated real multi-phase negotiation, most people reacted to the partner's emotions in reciprocal, rather than complementary, manner. Specific emotions were found to have different effects on the opponent's feelings and strategies chosen:

  • Anger caused the opponents to place lower demands and to concede more in a zero-sum negotiation, but also to evaluate the negotiation less favorably. It provoked both dominating and yielding behaviors of the opponent.
  • Pride led to more integrative and compromise strategies by the partner.
  • Guilt or regret expressed by the negotiator led to better impression of him by the opponent, however it also led the opponent to place higher demands. On the other hand, personal guilt was related to more satisfaction with what one achieved.
  • Worry or disappointment left bad impression on the opponent, but led to relatively lower demands by the opponent.

Last modified: Tuesday, 21 March 2017, 2:35 PM