Archive for the ‘Chapter 5: Perception, Cognition and Emotion’ Category

Perception is the process by which individuals connect to their environment. In layman’s terms, it is a sense-making process where people interpret their environment so to respond appropriately. As perception depends on the perceiver’s current state of mind, role and comprehension, here could always be errors in the interpretation and subsequent communication. Some forms of such distortions are as follows;

I. Types of Perceptual Distortions

–          Stereotyping

  • Assign attributes to one solely on the basis of the membership to a particular large group or category (social, racial, religious or sexual orientations )
  • Eg: He is an Italian so he must know so much about Rome.
  • Very common, highly resistant to change once formed

–          Halo effect

  • Generalize many attributes based on the knowledge of one attribute of the individuals without any consistent relationship between them
  • Positive effect à good attribute, negative effect à bad attribute
  • Reasons for occurrence
    • Very little experience with the other party
    • When the person is well known
    • When the qualities have strong moral implications
    • Eg: He is smiling so he must be telling the truth!

–          selective perception

  • Singles out certain information that supports a prior belief and filters out information that does confirm the belief.

–          Projection

  • Assign to others the characteristics or feelings that they possess themselves.
  • Eg: I feel upset to postpone things, so he also will probably get frustrated if I tell him to delay our meeting.


Frame is the subjective mechanism through which people evaluate and make sense out of situations based on their own experiences, leading them to pursue or avoid subsequent actions.

Type of Frames Used in Disputes


  • Disposition about key issue and concern in the conflict
  • Neglects how parties will resolve the dispute


  • Predisposition to achieving a specific result or outcome from the negotiation
  • Primarily used by distributive negotiators


  • Predisposition to a broader set of interests, needs and concern other than a specific outcome.
  • Primarily used by integrative negotiators


  • Procedure on how parties will resolve their dispute.
  • Does not care much about specific key issues and concern in the conflict


  • Definition of oneself, based on membership of a number of different social groups such as gender, religion, ethnic origin, etc
  • Used to differentiate themselves from others and tend to be positive


  • One’s definition of the other parties, shaped by prior or early experience and knowledge about others.
  • Tend to be negative in conflicts

Loss/ Gain

  • Definition of risk and reward associated with different outcomes
  • Can frame the outcome as loss or reward based on risk preference of other parties
  • For instance, a car buyer can view the transaction as a monetary cost of the purchase (loss) or the value (gain) of the item.

How frames work in Negotiation

  • Negotiators can use more than one frame
  • Mismatches in frames between parties are sources of conflict
  • Different types of frames or content from the two parties can cause misunderstanding and conflict escalation
  • Can reframe the conflict into the frame that is more compatible for both parties3. Particular types of frames may lead to particular types of agreements
    1. Aspiration frames lead to integrative agreement
    2. Outcome or negative frames can lead to distributive agreement
  • Specific frames may be likely to be used with certain types of issues
    1. People discussing salary may be likely to use outcome frame.
    2. People discussing relationship may be likely to use characterization frame
  • Parties are likely to assume a particular frame because of various factors
    1. Differences in personality
    2. Value differences
    3. Power differences
    4. Differences in background
    5. Social context

Different approach on how frames work in negotiation

  1. Interests
    1. Frame the conflicts based on interest, not on their positions and demands
  2. Rights
    1. Use some standards and rules to decide who has legitimacy, who is correct and fair in resolving the problem
  3. Power
    1. Create win-lose situation
    2. Resolve the conflict based on power – ability  to coerce the other by imposing other types of forces – economic pressures, expertise, legitimate authority, etc

II. Cognitive Biases in Negotiation

  • Irrational Escalation of Commitment – stick with a failing course of action
    • Eg: a country continues to pour resources into an unwinnable war because the conflict has already happened.
  • Mythical Fixed-Pie Beliefs – assume that all negotiations are win-lose
  • Anchoring and Adjustment – effect of standard against which subsequent adjustments are made during negotiation
  • Issue Framing and Risk – more risk averse when a decision problem is framed as gain, and risk seeking when framed as a loss
  • Availability of Information- depends on how easily information can be recalled and used
  • The Winner’s curse – tendency to settle quickly and subsequently feel discomfort about a win that comes easily
    • Eg: the other party gives in too easily, so there might be something wrong with the outcome or I could have done better.
  • Overconfidence – tendency to believe their ability to be correct or accurate is greater than for real.
  • The Law of Small Numbers- tendency to draw conclusions from small sizes
    • Eg: assuming all negotiations as distributive based on a number of past negotiations or prior experiences
  • Self-Serving Biases- explain behaviors by making attributions to the person or situation
    • Eg: If I mess up, it’s bad luck. If you mess up, it’s your fault!
  • Endowment Effect – tendency to overvalue something you posess
  • Eg: One is likely to pay $3 for a mug if he is to buy from others, but values $7 on the same mug he owns.
  • Ignoring Others’ Cognitions – ignoring the other party’s perceptions and thoughts hence working with incomplete information
  • Reactive Devaluation- devaluing the other party’s concessions simply because the other party made them

Managing Misperceptions and Cognitive Biases in Negotiation

  • Be aware that misperceptions and cognitive biases can occur as negotiators gather and process information and discuss them in a structured manner within their team and with their counterparts
  • Careful discussion of the issues and preference can reduce the effects of perceptual biases

III. Mood, Emotion and Negotiation

  • Mood and emotion are different in specificity (emotion is directed at more specific targets), intensity (mood is less intense) and duration (mood is more enduring)
  • Negotiations create both positive (happiness)and negative (dejection-related, agitation-related) emotions
  • Positive emotions generally have positive consequences for negotiations (lead parties to integrative process)
  • Negative emotions generally have negative consequences for negotiations (lead parties to competitive or distributive process or escalate conflicts)
  • Emotions can be used strategically as negotiation gambits
  • The effect of positive and negative emotion in negotiation

1)      Positive feelings may have negative consequences

  • More susceptible to a competitive opponent’s deceptive tactics
  • Less focus on arguments of other party, leading to less-than-optimal outcomes
  • Create strong positive expectations, experiencing the defeat more strongly and treating other more harshly if an satisfying integrative agreement is not found

2)      Negative feelings may create positive outcomes

  • Negative emotion has information value
  • Motivate people to either leave the situation or resolve the problem
  • Alerting other party of a problem in relationship, leading both to work on fixing the problem

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