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Judgment tasks and biases in negotiation


The focus of the present paper is on the nature of biases and the relationship between bias and outcomes in negotiation. There is strong evidence from numerical estimates, rating scale responses, and negotiators' spontaneous, think-aloud comments that negotiators enter negotiation with an erroneous fixed-sum assumption. However, through the process of negotiation, many negotiators become less biased and discover opportunities for joint gain. We observed an important relationship between negotiators' perceptions of integrative potential and individual and joint profit in negotiation: participants who missed or underestimated the potential for integrative solutions were less successful compared to those who accurately perceived the potential for join gain. An encouraging qualification of this general finding is that biases held by negotiators prior to negotiation are not related to outcomes, but biases emerging during the first give minutes of the interaction do predict outcomes. This suggest that the misperceptions and erroneous beliefs a novice negotiator brings to negotiation may not inevitable hinder performance. Rather the important factor is the negotiator's ability to disconfirm these erroneous beliefs early in negotiation. This finding raises the question of how negotiators are able to change their initial, erroneous beliefs and discover potential for joint gain. We addressed the learning question through an analysis of subjects' spontaneous comments made during the negotiation. Our analysis of the think aloud protocols identified six ways in which biased negotiators differ from more accurate negotiators in their perceptions after five minutes of interaction.We believe that the importance of learning during the first give minutes of negotiation is critical to negotiation success.


Book Chapter


Leigh Thompson, Reid Hastie

Date Published



Thompson, Leigh, and Reid Hastie. 1990. Judgment tasks and biases in negotiation. 2


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