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To Be Angry in Negotiation or Not to Be Angry? That is the Question

International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution

It is common sense that strong emotions, like anger, play an important role in negotiations. Research shows that people in negotiations are more likely to give in to an angry counterpart than to a neutral or happy counterpart. However, is this always the case? Recently, this question was raised by several researchers: If anger plays such a role in conflicts of interest (usually around a division of scarce resources like money or territory), will anger have the same effect in a different type of conflict—for example, in a conflict over values? Conflicts over values are usually related to personal norms, identities or moral issues. A recent study examined this.

The study showed that compared to con?icts of interests, participants in value con?icts perceived their opponents’ anger as less fair, and it made them more willing to escalate the con?ict. Interestingly, anger made negotiators more willing to appease in con?icts of interests. In conflicts over values, however, anger was perceived as more unjust and fueled escalation. As the authors note: “As values play a role in many con?icts between individuals, groups, or countries, it is extremely important for con?ict resolution to know which emotions should or should not be shown in these con?icts”.

Harinck, F. and Van Kleef, G. A. (2012), Be hard on the interests and soft on the values: Conflict issue moderates the effects of anger in negotiations. British Journal of Social Psychology. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8309.2011.02089.x


Taly Harel-Marian

Taly Harel-Marian is a Ph.D. candidate in the Social-Organizational Psychology program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her primary research interests include stereotype threat, cross-cultural dynamics, work/family issues, conflict resolution, and diversity in organizations. She also holds an M.Sc. in Behavioral and Management Sciences from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology,… MORE >

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