Take Action

Home | Faculty & Research Overview | Research

Research Details

Do agents negotiate for the best (or worst) interest of principals? Secure, anxious and avoidant principal-agent attachment., Journal of Experimental Social Psychology


This study examines how attachment styles affect business negotiations, particularly, the impasses that negotiation research has rarely investigated. Extending attachment theory to the managerial principal agent literature, this paper explains when and why agents effectively negotiate on behalf of their principals. We experimentally primed distinct principal-agent attachments (i.e., secure, anxious, or avoidant). In the simulation, negotiators' underlying interests were incompatible. The negotiation had no actual bargaining zone. However, agents were motivated to reach a deal, which would not be in the best interest of their principals. Agents securely attached to their principals avoided ill-fated deals (at their own expense); whereas agents avoidantly attached were most likely to agree to an ill-fated deal, thereby jeopardizing their principals' interests. An analysis of participants' own descriptions of why they reached such decisions reveals that secure agents negotiated for the best interest of their principals; whereas anxious and avoidant counterparts were oblivious to the principals' underlying interests.




Sujin Lee, Leigh Thompson

Date Published



Lee, Sujin, and Leigh Thompson. 2011. Do agents negotiate for the best (or worst) interest of principals? Secure, anxious and avoidant principal-agent attachment.. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.: 681-684.


Explore leading research and ideas

Find articles, podcast episodes, and videos that spark ideas in lifelong learners, and inspire those looking to advance in their careers.
learn more


Review Courses & Schedules

Access information about specific courses and their schedules by viewing the interactive course scheduler tool.


Discover the path to your goals

Whether you choose our Full-Time, Part-Time or Executive MBA program, you’ll enjoy the same unparalleled education, exceptional faculty and distinctive culture.
learn more