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Interpretive Filters: Social Cognition and the Impact of Turning Points in Negotiation

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A number of studies have shown that certain events that occur during a negotiation can alter its course. Referred to as “turning points,” these events are precipitated by actions taken either outside or inside the talks that have consequences for outcomes. In this article, we report the results of two experiments designed to examine the impacts of two types of precipitating actions, external and internal. In the first experiment, which focused on external actions, we found that crises — as opposed to breakthroughs — produced more movement in negotiations in which parties viewed the social climate positively (high trust, low power). We found that parties achieved less movement in negative social climates (low trust, high power).

In the second experiment, which focused on internal actions, we found that cooperative precipitants (factors inducing change) were more likely to occur when parties negotiated in the context of positive social climates. Negotiation outcomes were also influenced by the climate: we found better individual outcomes for negotiations that occurred in positive climates (high trust, cooperative orientations). Inboth experiments, the social climate of the negotiation moderated the effects of precipitating factors on negotiation outcomes. Perceptions of trust and power filter the way negotiators interpret actions that occur outside or are taken inside a negotiation, which can lead to agreements or impasses.
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Keywords: negotiation processes; orientations; outcomes; power; precipitants; trust; turning points

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: George Mason University, and University of Queensland, Australia 2: University of Melbourne in Australia

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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