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The Bittersweet Feeling of Success: An Examination of Social Perception in Negotiation, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology


A social preparation framework was used to examine how social cues and intergroup relations affect social judgment and behavior in negotiation. In Experiment 1, subjects negotiated and then learned that their opponent felt happy/disappointed/neutral. Negotiators felt less successful when their opponent was happy than when the opponent was disappointed. This effect occurred independent of negotiators' actual performance on the task. The feeling of success was "bittersweet", however, in that individuals who felt successful also regarded themselves as less honest, less sincere, less generous, and less fair - in short, less honourable in the negotiations. Experiment 2 tested the prediction that intergroup relationships govern the inverse affect and bittersweet effects. Individuals who negotiated with a disappointed opponent felt successful when the opponent was an out-group member, but not when the opponent was an in-group member. Negotiators allocated substantially more resources to in-group members who expressed disappointment with a previous outcome than to out-group members who expressed disappointment.




Leigh Thompson, Kathleen L. Valley, Roderick M. Kramer

Date Published



Thompson, Leigh, Kathleen L. Valley, and Roderick M. Kramer. 1995. The Bittersweet Feeling of Success: An Examination of Social Perception in Negotiation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 31(6): 467-492.


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