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When Is Straightforwardness a Liability in Negotiations? The Role of Integrative Potential and Structural Power

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Negotiations present individuals with a paradox. On the one hand, individuals are expected via social norms and formal regulations to be honest and straightforward in their negotiations. On the other hand, individuals who mislead their negotiation counterpart are often rewarded with more favorable settlements. The authors investigate this paradox by examining the relationship between negotiators' dispositional straightforwardness and concessions made during a negotiation. Drawing from the dual concern model (D. G. Pruitt & J. Z. Rubin, 1986), the authors show how dispositional straightforwardness leads individuals to develop a greater concern for their counterpart's interests, which in turn leads to greater concession making during the negotiation. The authors then show how this individual-level relationship is moderated by features of the negotiation task, namely integrative potential and power.
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When Is Straightforwardness a Liability in Negotiations?
The Role of Integrative Potential and Structural Power
D. Scott DeRue
University of Michigan
Donald E. Conlon
Michigan State University
Henry Moon
London Business School
Harold W. Willaby
University of Sydney
Negotiations present individuals with a paradox. On the one hand, individuals are expected via social
norms and formal regulations to be honest and straightforward in their negotiations. On the other
hand, individuals who mislead their negotiation counterpart are often rewarded with more favorable
settlements. The authors investigate this paradox by examining the relationship between negotiators’
dispositional straightforwardness and concessions made during a negotiation. Drawing from the dual
concern model (D. G. Pruitt & J. Z. Rubin, 1986), the authors show how dispositional straightfor-
wardness leads individuals to develop a greater concern for their counterpart’s interests, which in
turn leads to greater concession making during the negotiation. The authors then show how this
individual-level relationship is moderated by features of the negotiation task, namely integrative
potential and power.
Keywords: straightforwardness, negotiation, personality, power
Negotiations represent joint decision-making situations that
challenge negotiators to manage contradictory forces. In theory,
codes of conduct and ethical standards argue that negotiators must
be straightforward, honest, and sincere in their dealings. This is
evident in the American Bar Association’s (1980) code of profes-
sional conduct, Disciplinary Rule 1-102(A)(4),which states that “a
lawyer shall not . . . engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud,
deceit, or misrepresentation” (p. 10). Similarly, the National As-
sociation of Realtors’ (2007) Code of Ethics and Standards of
Practice states, “When serving a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant or
other party . . . REALTORS
®
remain obligated to treat all parties
honestly . . . shall not deliberately mislead the owner . . . [and]
shall not mislead buyers or tenants” (pp. 1–2). In practice, how-
ever, negotiators across a wide variety of fields often appear to
mislead their counterparts to reach a favorable outcome for them-
selves (e.g., Aquino, 1998; O’Connor & Carnevale, 1997). This
paradox creates an interesting tension for negotiators. On the one
hand, negotiators are expected to be straightforward, as such
behavior resonates with professional norms and standards, and the
exchange of truthful information ought to lead to mutual under-
standing among negotiators. On the other hand, it appears that
people who are less straightforward and more misleading often
perform better in negotiations.
This tension is reflected in prior work documenting the dilem-
mas of trust and honesty in negotiations (cf. Kelley, 1966;
Lewicki, Saunders, & Barry, 2006). According to Lewicki, Saun-
ders, and Barry (2006), the dilemma of trust highlights that a
negotiator who believes everything the other party says risks being
manipulated by this party if it should behave dishonestly. The
dilemma of honesty highlights that a negotiator who straightfor-
wardly tells the other party the complete and unvarnished truth
about its interests and positions risks never reaching a settlement
that is better than his or her minimally acceptable level (i.e.,
resistance point).
To date, the scholarly literature has focused mostly on the
deception and unethical features of this paradox, in particular
the antecedents and consequences of such actions (e.g., Aquino
& Becker, 2005; Boles, Croson, & Murnighan, 2000;
Schweitzer & Croson, 1999). This research concludes that
negotiators who deceive their counterpart often benefit from
increasing their relative power (Lewicki & Robinson, 1998),
their perceived power (Shapiro & Bies, 1994), and tangible
outcomes (Chertkoff & Baird, 1971; O’Connor & Carnevale,
1997). However, these benefits occur at a cost to socioemo-
tional outcomes such as interpersonal trust (Schweitzer, Her-
shey, & Bradlow, 2006). What is less understood is the role of
straightforwardness in this paradox—in particular, how one’s
dispositional tendency to be straightforward influences one’s
behavior during the negotiation and ultimately the outcome of
the negotiation. This is a critical gap in the literature because,
currently, we can speak to the consequences of unethical ac-
D. Scott DeRue, Management and Organizations, Stephen M. Ross
School of Business, University of Michigan; Donald E. Conlon, Depart-
ment of Management, Eli Broad College of Business, Michigan State
University; Henry Moon, Organizational Behavior, London Business
School, London, England; Harold W. Willaby, Faculty of Science, Uni-
versity of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to D. Scott
DeRue, Management and Organizations, Stephen M. Ross School of Busi-
ness, University of Michigan, 701 Tappan Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.
E-mail: dsderue@umich.edu
Journal of Applied Psychology © 2009 American Psychological Association
2009, Vol. 94, No. 4, 1032–1047 0021-9010/09/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0014965
1032
tions, but we cannot speak to the consequences or boundary
conditions associated with straightforwardness in negotiations.
Certainly scholars have argued that the exchange of truthful
information by negotiators facilitates mutually beneficial settle-
ments (Pruitt, 1981; Thompson, 1991). Those who are high in the
personality dimension of straightforwardness would seem to be the
type of people who would engage in such information exchange.
Straightforward individuals are frank, honest, and sincere in their
dealings with others, and they refrain from contentious behaviors
such as bullying, manipulation, and deception (Ashton & Lee,
2005; Costa & McCrae, 1992). However, we suspect there may be
situations under which being straightforward is problematic in
negotiations. In other words, can the dispositional tendency to be
straightforward lead to negotiation behavior that is detrimental to
the negotiator and, if so, under what conditions? The present study
addresses these questions by considering how straightforwardness,
conceptualized as a disposition of the individual negotiator, im-
pacts individual-level concessions in dyadic negotiations. Drawing
from the dual concern model (Pruitt & Rubin, 1986), we propose
that straightforwardness leads to a greater concern for the other
party, which then leads to individual negotiators conceding more
from their initial demands. We then posit that this individual-level
relationship between straightforwardness and concessions is mod-
erated by (dyad-level) features of the negotiation task, namely
integrative potential and structural power. Figure 1 provides a
conceptual model of these multilevel relationships.
Straightforwardness in Negotiations
Straightforwardness is one of the facets that compose the agree-
ableness factor of the five-factor model of personality (Costa &
McCrae, 1992). Although no research has specifically looked at
straightforwardness in negotiations, Barry and Friedman (1998)
did investigate the role of agreeableness in distributive and inte-
grative negotiations. Distributive negotiations represent zero-sum
situations in which the two parties are attempting to secure a larger
share of a fixed resource; integrative negotiations represent non-
zero-sum situations in which the goals of both parties are not
completely opposed and thus the opportunity for value creation
exists. Barry and Friedman concluded that highly agreeable nego-
tiators do worse for themselves in distributive negotiations in
comparison to less agreeable negotiators in the same negotiation.
These authors invoked a cognitive explanation for their results,
arguing that the liability of agreeableness in distributive negotia-
tions was due to highly agreeable negotiators falling prey to the
trap of anchoring, which occurs when one party’s extreme offer
biases the other party’s view of the underlying structure of the
negotiation.
The notion of a dispositional liability is something we carry
forward to the present discussion, but we also argue that decom-
posing agreeableness into its facets, in particular straightforward-
ness, is important for understanding the behavior of negotiators.
Research outside of the negotiation domain has documented that
broad personality factors and their facets can have differential
effects and that, in some cases, the facets hold more explanatory
power than do the broad personality factors. This is because the
aggregation of personality facets into factors masks important
relationships between the specific facets and outcomes of interest.
For example, Moon (2001) examined how the broad personality
factor of conscientiousness and its facets influenced individuals’
escalation of commitment in investment decisions. Moon found
that the broad factor of conscientiousness was unrelated to esca-
lation behavior, but select facets of conscientiousness did impact
individuals’ escalation of commitment. In particular, the facet of
achievement striving was positively related to escalation behavior,
whereas the facet of dutifulness was negatively related to escala-
tion behavior. Subsequent studies have gone on to demonstrate
further that broad personality factors and their facets can have
differential effects on individual behavior and performance (Grif-
fin & Hesketh, 2004; Magid, MacLean, & Colder, 2007). On the
basis of this research, it is clear that researchers should consider
both the broad factors and the individual facets of personality. In
fact, too much emphasis on the broad personality factors without
consideration of specific facets may be one reason why personality
has a poor record of predicting important negotiation outcomes
(Hamner, 1980).
With respect to straightforwardness, there are both empirical
and conceptual reasons to conclude that the straightforwardness
facet and the broad agreeableness factor are not as similar as one
might assume. Empirically, Ashton and Lee (2005) concluded
The NEO-PI-R [factors] tend to be somewhat heterogeneous in con-
tent and subsume some constructs whose loadings on the five lexical
factors are somewhat modest. In the case of the NEO-PI-R Agree-
ableness [factor], two of the six facets assess constructs that are not
among those that strongly define the Big Five Agreeableness factor as
obtained in earlier English lexical research. (p. 1327)
One such facet is straightforwardness. John and Srivastava (1999)
supported this conclusion, noting that the 12 items used to assess
the broad agreeableness factor include only one item measuring
straightforwardness. Conceptually, the agreeableness factor pri-
marily comprises the altruism and compliance facets. These facets
reflect one’s general tendency to help others or conform but with
less of an expectation for something in return when compared with
straightforwardness (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Straightforwardness
reflects one’s tendency to behave in ways that are frank, sincere,
and ingenuous. However, one can act in a straightforward manner
and still be concerned about one’s interests, especially in negoti-
ation contexts in which, by definition, each party has at least some
self-interest and expectation of mutual exchange. In this sense,
straightforwardness is more of an exchange-oriented dimension of
personality and involves consideration of actions that impact the
other person during an exchange situation. This is in contrast to
altruism, compliance, and thus the broad agreeableness factor,
which generally reflect one’s behavioral tendency to give or help
Straight-
forwardness
Concern for the
Other Party Concessions
Power
Integrative
Potential
Figure 1. A conceptual model of straightforwardness in dyadic negotia-
tions.
1033
STRAIGHTFORWARDNESS IN NEGOTIATIONS
with less of an expectation for any exchange in return. For this
reason, we expect straightforwardness to be more predictive of
negotiation behavior than the broad agreeableness factor or the
altruism and compliance facets.
In negotiation contexts, we expect that persons high in straight-
forwardness will ultimately concede more from their initial de-
mands than persons low in straightforwardness. This is because we
expect straightforward people to respond to the dilemma of hon-
esty by being more frank, truthful, and sincere in negotiations,
compared with persons who are lower in straightforwardness. The
interesting consequence of this truthfulness, as noted by Kelley
(1966) and Lewicki et al. (2006), is that by being more truthful, the
straightforward negotiator is likely to acknowledge that his or her
interests can be met at lower levels of favorability than would be
the case with a less straightforward negotiator. Less straightfor-
ward negotiators can be more successful in negotiations because
they are more comfortable either establishing unnecessarily high
aspirations or arguing for higher settlement levels with less regard
for the other party’s interests. Less straightforward negotiators will
also be more comfortable omitting key information that would
compromise their own position. In contrast, more straightforward
negotiators are likely to have more difficulty defending their
aspirations than less straightforward negotiators, which ultimately
should result in greater concessions from their initial demands.
Agreeableness has been shown to impact negotiation outcomes
via anchoring processes (Barry & Friedman, 1998)—a cognitive
explanation. We argue here that facet-level straightforwardness im-
pacts negotiator behavior, namely concession making, via motiva-
tional processes. In particular, we argue that one’s concern for the
interests and well-being of the other party explains the relationship
between straightforwardness and concessionary behavior. The dual
concern model (Pruitt & Rubin, 1986) provides a useful theoretical
framework for understanding these relationships. This model,
which is an extension of Blake and Mouton’s (1964) conflict grid,
has the following two dimensions: (a) concern about one’s own
outcomes and (b) concern for others’ outcomes. These two dimen-
sions range from weak to strong and are independent. The degree
of concern for others’ outcomes is considered to be either genuine
in nature or more of an instrumental concern. If genuine, the
concern may be derived from positive feelings toward, or a per-
ception of, common group identity with the other party. In the case
of an instrumental concern for the other party, one’s other-concern
is often due to an expectation that future interaction with this party
will occur and establishing a good working relationship is impor-
tant (Pruitt & Carnevale, 1993).
Pruitt and Rubin (1986) highlighted that an important determi-
nant of strategy selection by a negotiator is the perceived feasibil-
ity of the strategy. Feasibility is defined as “the extent to which the
strategy seems capable of achieving the concerns that give rise to
it and the cost that is anticipated from enacting each strategy”
(Pruitt & Rubin, 1986, p. 35). The dual concern model posits that
negotiators rely on four basic strategies as they pursue dispute
resolution. One of these strategies is yielding (accommodation),
which is the strategy a negotiator is expected to use more to the
extent that he or she has more concern for the other’s outcome. In
discussing perceived feasibility, Pruitt and Rubin stated that to the
extent that parties are more concerned about others’ outcomes than
their own, they are more likely to use an accommodating strategy.
We argue that negotiators higher in straightforwardness will
have greater concern for the other party than people low in
straightforwardness. This is because straightforward individuals
have a strong desire to be frank, truthful, and sincere in their
dealings with other people (Costa & McCrae, 1992). As a result,
straightforward individuals are likely to develop a more instru-
mental concern for, and thus a more accommodating working
relationship with, their negotiating partner. In other words,
straightforward individuals have a greater concern for the other
party because they assume that this will lead to a better working
relationship. In contrast, less straightforward individuals are less
motivated to be sincere or forthright when interacting with others
and, as a result, are less likely to have or develop a concern for
other people. In negotiations, straightforward individuals are more
likely than less straightforward individuals to be concerned about
the interests of the other party and consequently should find it
more difficult to defend their positions and aspirations. Thus, the
more straightforward individuals are, the more likely they are to
concede from their initial demands.
We expect these effects of straightforwardness on negotiators’
concern for the other party, and ultimately their concessions from
initial demands, to be independent of any effects associated with
the broad agreeableness factor or facets such as altruism and
compliance. Relative to the broad agreeableness factor or these
other facets, straightforwardness is much more descriptive of the
actions taken toward others in exchange contexts such as negoti-
ations. Conceptually, straightforwardness describes people’s
(un)willingness to manipulate others to get what they want, trick
people into doing what they want, and be shrewd in handling other
people. Altruism and compliance, and therefore the broad agree-
ableness factor, as these are the two dominant facets composing
the broad factor, are more descriptive of people’s willingness to
help or obey, with less of an expectation for something in return,
which is inconsistent with the basic idea of a negotiation.
This discussion about the consequences of straightforwardness
leads to the following two hypotheses, which we expect are inde-
pendent of any effects associated with the broad agreeableness
factor or the altruism and compliance facets of agreeableness:
Hypothesis 1: Straightforwardness will be positively related
to individuals’ concessions from their initial demands.
Hypothesis 2: The relationship between straightforwardness
and concessions will be mediated by the negotiator’s concern
for the other party.
Integrative Potential
Although these hypotheses generally suggest that straightfor-
wardness may be a liability, we anticipate that the deleterious
effects of straightforwardness on concessions may be worse in
some negotiation contexts (namely distributive negotiations) than
in others (integrative negotiations). Since Walton and McKersie
(1965) first distinguished between integrative and distributive ne-
gotiations, these two types of negotiation have been the focus of
much research (e.g., Barry & Friedman, 1998; Lax & Sebenius,
1986; Pruitt & Carnevale, 1993). Because the goals maintained by
the negotiating parties are usually in fundamental and direct con-
flict with one another and resources are fixed and limited, each
1034 DERUE, CONLON, MOON, AND WILLABY
party in a distributive negotiation engages in behavior directed at
maximizing its share of the outcomes to be obtained (Lewicki et
al., 2006). This stands in contrast to integrative negotiations, in
which if one party achieves its goals, the other party is not
precluded from also achieving its goals. In essence, the structure of
an integrative negotiation is such that it allows both sides to
achieve their objectives (Walton & McKersie, 1965).
We propose that straightforwardness will be more of a liability
in distributive negotiations than in integrative negotiations; in
other words, we expect highly straightforward negotiators to con-
cede more from their initial demands in distributive negotiations
than in integrative negotiations. This is because the dispositional
characteristics of such a person are inconsistent with the demands
that are placed on a negotiator in a distributive bargaining context.
Lewicki, Saunders, and Minton (1999) stated that “distributive
bargaining is basically a conflict situation, wherein parties seek
their own advantage—in part through concealing information,
attempting to mislead, or using manipulative actions” (p. 106).
Others (e.g., Johnston, 1982) also suggested distributive negotia-
tions lead to the use of unpredictability, surprise, threats, bluffs,
hostility, and the creation of negative images of the other side.
Consistent with the writings of Ashton and Lee (2005) and Costa
and McCrae (1992), who noted that straightforward individuals
tend to refrain from these sorts of contentious behaviors, we
suggest that more straightforward negotiators are likely to be less
adept at such behaviors than less straightforward negotiators.
Relative to distributive negotiations, the characteristics of inte-
grative negotiations provide greater opportunity for more trust and
openness between negotiating parties, exchange of accurate infor-
mation, predictability, and the abandonment of negative images of
the other side. We expect these features of integrative negotiations
are a good fit with the dispositional tendencies of a highly straight-
forward person. In addition, the importance of truthful information
exchange in integrative negotiations, combined with the variable-
sum nature of such negotiations, implies that straightforward ne-
gotiators can express their needs honestly, and it will not automat-
ically lead to contentious-claiming behavior by the other party.
This is because revealing truthful information in integrative nego-
tiations helps the parties discover that they may prefer different
settlement positions, which thereby allows both sides to get more
value on the issues of more importance to them. A seller may care
much more about selling price, for example, whereas a buyer may
care much more about financing terms. In such cases, even if
parties prefer opposite settlement positions on each issue, they can
reach beneficial agreements because their priorities are different
(i.e., the buyer’s most important issue is not the seller’s most
important issue, thus allowing for tradeoffs across the issues rather
than compromises on each issue). Although straightforward nego-
tiators may still concede more than they should in an integrative
negotiation, their honesty and frankness can also help the parties
discover the integrative potential of the negotiation, which can
make the total value of the settlement larger and create a situation
that does not require the straightforward negotiator to concede as
much as he or she would in a distributive negotiation. On the basis
of these arguments, we hypothesize the following:
Hypothesis 3: The relationship between straightforwardness
and concessions will be moderated by negotiation type such
that the positive relationship between straightforwardness and
concessions will be stronger in distributive negotiations than
in integrative negotiations.
Power
We also expect that the relationship between straightforward-
ness and how much individuals concede from their initial demands
will be impacted by the position power that disputants possess in
the negotiation. Models of power usually characterize power in
dyadic terms. For instance, Emerson’s (1962) work construed
power in terms of how dependent one party was on another for
valued resources. In the literature on negotiation and conflict,
power has been defined as the ability to bring about desirable
outcomes (Salancik & Pfeffer, 1977), the possibility to influence
others (Bacharach & Lawler, 1981; Kelley & Thibaut, 1978), or
the capacity to put effective pressure on the other negotiating party
(Carnevale & Pruitt, 1992). Using any one of these definitions, a
party with power can induce another party with less power to do
what the latter would otherwise not do (Dahl, 1957; Kotter, 1979).
More recent work on power has elaborated and contextualized
early definitions, but most note that power can be construed as
both a structural element of situations and a psychological reaction
experienced by individuals (Anderson & Galinsky, 2006). The
present study focuses on power as a function of the structural
position parties occupy in negotiations.
Existing research on the role of power in negotiations has
primarily considered the importance of equal or unequal power
among negotiating parties (Rubin & Brown, 1975). Although
roughly equivalent levels of power characterize many negotiations,
there are numerous examples of negotiations in which disparities
exist among negotiators in terms of position power (French &
Raven, 1959). Consider when a boss negotiates with a subordinate
over how a task should be executed, or when a department chair
negotiates with a faculty member over teaching assignments, or
when an acquiring company negotiates with a firm it has just
purchased over the new human resource policies to be imple-
mented. In each of these dyadic exchanges, the first party men-
tioned is usually seen as having an advantaged and more powerful
position relative to the second party. In each case, the first party
has the capacity to control one’s own and others’ outcomes from
the dyadic exchange and, as a result, has more power (Magee,
Galinsky, & Gruenfeld, 2007).
Relative structural or position power is often noted as an im-
portant factor in determining the bargaining strategies of negoti-
ating parties and the settlements reached by those parties
(Bacharach & Lawler, 1981; De Dreu & van Kleef, 2004; Habeeb,
1988). Existing empirical research would support the notion that
relative power influences negotiation processes such as coopera-
tion (e.g., Rekosh & Feigenbaum, 1966; Tedeschi, Bonoma, &
Novinson, 1970) as well as joint outcomes (e.g., McAlister, Baz-
erman, & Fader, 1986). In fact, in many negotiations, it is likely
that the more powerful party in the dyad could determine the
outcomes of negotiation unilaterally, although powerful actors do
not always use or invoke such power (e.g., Conlon, Carnevale, &
Murnighan, 1994). Powerful negotiators may not unilaterally im-
pose outcomes because they recognize that parties are typically
more satisfied and committed to implementing the decision out-
comes when they can view themselves as being at least partially
responsible for the outcome (Lind & Tyler, 1988).
1035
STRAIGHTFORWARDNESS IN NEGOTIATIONS
In general, the research on power in negotiations shows that
dyads with equal power engage in more cooperative behavior,
whereas dyads with unequal power engage in more contentious
tactics and negotiating strategies. For instance, Sheposh and Gallo
(1973) used a Prisoner’s Dilemma paradigm to show that dyads of
equal power are more cooperative than dyads with unequal power.
Similarly, Swingle (1970) showed that dyads with unequal power
engaged in more exploitative behavior than did dyads with equal
power. More recent studies of power in negotiation have only
reinforced the notion that power differences between negotiators
lead to greater use of threats and punishments, thereby escalating
conflict among negotiators (e.g., De Dreu, Giebels, & van de
Vliert, 1998; Lawler, 1992). In sum, a general conclusion in this
literature is that dyads with unequal power experience greater
conflict and are more contentious than those with equal power.
In considering straightforwardness, one can easily see parallels
between this discussion of unequal and equal power and our
previous discussion of distributive and integrative negotiation con-
texts. Specifically, we expect that the impact of straightforward-
ness on concessions is likely to be exacerbated in negotiations of
unequal power, as the behaviors that manifest themselves in such
negotiations do not fit well with the dispositional tendencies of
straightforward negotiators. For example, one could imagine that if
a less powerful negotiator is more straightforward and reveals
truthful information to a more powerful opponent, it becomes even
easier for the more powerful negotiator to exploit this information.
From a bases-of-power perspective, straightforward negotiators
with low power lose any potential information power they have,
and the structure of the situation does not allow them to gain any
other source of power in exchange. Ironically, straightforwardness
could even be a greater liability for more powerful negotiators
because by revealing information about true preferences and
needs, high-power negotiators undermine their advantaged posi-
tion by providing information to low-power negotiators that bol-
sters the latter’s negotiating position or heightens the latter’s
resolve to resist making concessions. Thus, we hypothesize the
following:
Hypothesis 4: The relationship between straightforwardness
and concessions will be moderated by power such that the
positive relationship between straightforwardness and con-
cessions will be stronger in unequal power negotiations than
in equal power negotiations.
Although we expect the relationship between straightforward-
ness and concessions to be stronger in negotiations of unequal
power, we also expect that within these unequal power negotia-
tions, the negative effects of straightforwardness will be even more
pronounced for the high-power negotiators. The low-power nego-
tiator is already in a disadvantaged position and, as a result, begins
the negotiation with a lower set of expectations. In contrast, the
high-power negotiator is in an advantageous position, often has
higher expectations, and thus has more to lose by being straight-
forward regarding his or her interests. Moreover, a high-power,
straightforward individual is more likely (in comparison to a less
straightforward, high-power person) to incorporate the other per-
son’s low-power position and the behavioral implications of this
disadvantageous position. As stated previously, the genuine con-
cern for the opponent experienced by individuals who are high on
straightforwardness stems from positive feelings toward the other
party, a perception of common group identity (likely to emerge in
this merger–acquisition negotiation), and a preference for a posi-
tive working relationship (Pruitt & Carnevale, 1993). Because the
high-power, straightforward negotiator has these feelings, that
person will be more comfortable relaxing his or her demands and
subsequently making concessions. However, when an individual is
in a low-power position, that person has to look for other ways to
get a preferred solution. All else being equal, we expect a low-
power position encourages less candid, less truthful, and less
sincere behavior, which creates a disadvantage for the high-power,
straightforward individual. In this sense, straightforwardness is
one mechanism through which high-power negotiators can lose the
advantages afforded to them by their positional power, which leads
us to the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 5: The relationship between straightforwardness
and concessions will be moderated by role such that the
positive relationship between straightforwardness and con-
cessions will be stronger for high-power negotiators than
low-power negotiators.
Method
Participants were upper-level business undergraduates at a large,
midwestern university. A total of 198 students voluntarily partic-
ipated in the study, resulting in a total of 99 negotiating dyads.
Average age was 22 years, and 50% were women.
Procedure
Upon their arrival, participants were provided with an orienta-
tion to the study. Following their consent to the study, participants
completed an initial questionnaire. The items used to assess
straightforwardness were included in this questionnaire but were
randomized and embedded in a broad array of personality-related
items so that participants would not be able to deduce our focus on
straightforwardness. Participants were then randomly assigned to
one of two roles (“Mountain” or “Pinnacle”), and the role groups
were then separated into two rooms. We used the Mountain–
Pinnacle negotiation task, which is a variation of the new-recruit
negotiation that has been used in prior research (e.g., Conlon,
Moon, & Ng, 2002). In each negotiating dyad, one participant
represented a company called Mountain, and the other participant
represented a company called Pinnacle. The negotiators needed to
arrive at a settlement on seven issues related to human resource
management and compensation decisions. To ensure that partici-
pants would be motivated to negotiate, all parties were told prior
to the negotiation that they had the opportunity to earn $25 on the
basis of their individual performance and the overall performance
of their dyad. Specifically, we selected the top 50% of dyads
according to joint value and from these dyads rewarded the top
20% of negotiators on the basis of their individual scores.
Prior to the negotiation, participants were provided written case
materials to review and use in preparing for the negotiation. These
case materials included information about their respective roles,
the company, the negotiation context, the issues subject to nego-
tiation, and supporting information to develop their positions on
the issues. All text in the case materials not relevant to the
1036 DERUE, CONLON, MOON, AND WILLABY
experimental manipulations (e.g., instructions, company names,
geographic locations, background information) was held constant
across conditions. Participants were allowed 30 –40 min to review
the materials. Upon reviewing the materials, participants answered
several brief questions to verify that they understood the case and
their point schedules for the seven negotiable issues. Once partic-
ipants understood the case materials but prior to the negotiation,
they completed a second questionnaire that included items related
to their goals and aspirations in the negotiation.
Participants were then assigned to dyads by randomly pairing
negotiators from each role (one party representing Mountain was
randomly paired with one party representing Pinnacle). Dyads
were placed into private rooms where they were allowed up to 45
min to negotiate a settlement on all seven issues. Upon reaching an
agreement, each participant completed a form indicating the result
of his or her negotiation and then completed a measure of his or
her concern for the other party during the negotiation. Similar to
the straightforwardness items, the survey items used to assess
one’s concern for the other party were also randomized and em-
bedded in a longer survey to reduce the likelihood that participants
would assume our interest in their concern for the other party.
Manipulations
A22 factorial design varied the structural power inherent in
the negotiating dyad (equal or unequal power) and the integrative
potential of the negotiation task (integrative or distributive).
Power and role. Power was manipulated by varying the struc-
tural properties of the situation. In the equal power conditions,
negotiators were told that their two companies (Mountain and
Pinnacle) were merging and that both Mountain and Pinnacle
negotiators had equal authority to decide exactly what the settle-
ment outcomes were going to be. In the unequal power condition,
negotiators were told that Mountain was acquiring Pinnacle. In this
acquisition scenario, both parties were told that the Mountain
negotiator had the authority to decide what the settlement out-
comes would be, should the parties be unable to reach a negotiated
settlement. Thus, the Mountain negotiator was in the high-power
role, and the Pinnacle negotiator was in the low-power role be-
cause the Mountain negotiator had the capacity to control his or
her own as well as the other’s outcome, consistent with the
definition of power provided by Magee et al. (2007). The equal
power condition was coded 0, and the unequal power condition
was coded 1. For testing Hypothesis 5, which only dealt with
unequal power dyads, the low-power role was coded 0, and the
high power role was coded 1.
Integrative potential. A total of seven issues were negotiated
across all conditions. The settlement positions were held constant
across all conditions (i.e., each issue could be settled at one of five
outcomes, identical across all conditions). However, the payoff
structure of the seven issues was manipulated to create either an
integrative or a distributive negotiation (see Appendix). In the
integrative condition, six of the seven issues were designed to
allow for tradeoffs across issues. Issues that had a high priority for
the Mountain negotiator (e.g., salary worth a possible 6,000 points
and vacation time worth a possible 4,000 points) had lower prior-
ities for the Pinnacle negotiator (e.g., salary worth a possible 2,400
points and vacation time worth a possible 1,600 points). In the
distributive condition, the Mountain point structure remained the
same, but the Pinnacle point structure was changed to be in direct
opposition to the Mountain point structure. The seventh issue
(training location) was not manipulated in this study and thus was
a compatible issue present in all conditions. The distributive con-
dition was coded 0, and the integrative condition was coded 1.
Measures
Straightforwardness. We measured straightforwardness via
the long form of the Revised NEO Personality Inventory (Costa &
McCrae, 1992). The scale included eight items and was measured
on a 7-point agreement scale (1 strongly disagree,7strongly
agree). Example items included “I couldn’t deceive anyone even if
I wanted to” and “At times I bully or flatter people into doing what
I want them to” (reverse coded). The coefficient alpha for this
scale was .63.
1
Concern for the other party. We measured the degree to which
each party was concerned for the interests of the other party using
the following two items: “I was very concerned with the welfare
and interests of the other party” and “I was very concerned with
the outcomes of the other party.” We adapted these items from past
measures of concern for other (Lim, 1997) and the descriptions of
concern for other provided by Pruitt and Rubin (1986). These
items were measured on a 7-point scale (1 strongly disagree,
7strongly agree). The coefficient alpha for this scale was .83.
Concessions. We operationalized concessions as the change in
demand made by the negotiator from the onset of negotiations to
the conclusion of negotiations. This is consistent with prior studies
that have looked at concessions in terms of the decline in utility
(points) over time (e.g., Carnevale, 2008; De Dreu, 1995; Stuhl-
macher & Champagne, 2000). In the second questionnaire, which
was completed directly prior to the negotiation, we asked partici-
pants “How many points will you try to get in this negotiation?”
This item served as each negotiator’s target goal. To measure
change in demand, we subtracted each individual’s actual point
total (at the end of the negotiation) from this initial target goal.
Each individual’s actual point total was computed by adding
together the points awarded across all seven negotiable issues. For
each negotiable issue, a specific number of points were awarded
based on the final settlement that was reached by the two negoti-
ating parties (see Appendix for payoff structure).
Control variables. Given that straightforwardness is a facet of
agreeableness, it is important that we distinguish the effects of
straightforwardness on concessions from any effect that the broad
agreeableness factor might have on concessions. In addition, one
might argue that other facets of agreeableness, namely altruism
1
This coefficient alpha is slightly lower than the common cutoff value
of .70. However, according to Schmitt (1996), a low alpha value actually
attenuates the observed relationship, making it less likely that one will find
an effect. Moreover, coefficient alpha is, in part, a function of test length.
With only eight items in our measure, it might be the case that our low
alpha was due, in part, to the number of items. For these reasons, Schmitt
actually concluded that “the use of any cutoff value (including .70) is
shortsighted” (p. 351). For this study, we used the most established,
validated measure of straightforwardness available (Costa & McCrae,
1992), and our .63 alpha attenuates the observed relationship between
straightforwardness and the other variables of interest. Thus, the relation-
ship observed in this study should be quite robust.
1037
STRAIGHTFORWARDNESS IN NEGOTIATIONS
and compliance, might impact concession behavior. Therefore, we
measured each of these variables using the long form of the
Revised NEO Personality Inventory (Costa & McCrae, 1992).
Each measure was assessed on a 7-point agreement scale (1
strongly disagree,7strongly agree). The coefficient alpha
values for agreeableness, altruism, and compliance were .75, .73,
and .63, respectively. To isolate the effects of straightforwardness
on concession behavior and eliminate potential confounding ef-
fects, we controlled for these variables in our analyses.
Data Analysis
Because individuals are nested within dyads, there is a lack of
independence in the data. To take this lack of independence into
account, we formally tested the hypotheses using multilevel mod-
eling (Hofmann, 1997; Hofmann, Griffin, & Gavin, 2000; Rau-
denbush & Bryk, 2002). Multilevel modeling allows one to ana-
lyze variables at multiple levels of analysis in a series of regression
equations. In this study, multilevel modeling is appropriate be-
cause we are interested in individual-level behaviors, in particular
concessions during the negotiation, and these individual-level be-
haviors are nested within and impacted by dyad-level factors. The
first level of analysis (Level 1) is the individual negotiator and
includes measures of straightforwardness, concern for the other
party, and concessions. The second level of analysis (Level 2) is
the dyad and includes the manipulations of power and integrative
potential. For the main effect hypothesis (Hypothesis 1), the ttest
of the
40
parameter provides a direct test of the hypothesis, taking
into account the lack of independence in the data. For the media-
tion hypothesis (Hypothesis 2), we used the methods outlined by
Baron and Kenny (1986) and MacKinnon, Lockwood, Hoffman,
West, and Sheets (2002). For the cross-level interaction hypothe-
ses (Hypotheses 3– 4), the ttest of the
41
and
42
parameters
provides a direct test of the hypotheses, taking into account the
lack of independence in the data. For the Level 1 interaction
hypothesis (Hypothesis 5), the ttest of the
60
parameter (for the
interaction between straightforwardness and role) provides a direct
test of the hypothesis (see Hofmann et al., 2000).
To interpret the estimates as representing strictly within-dyad
effects, we centered all Level 1 predictor variables to each indi-
vidual’s mean (Hofmann et al., 2000). This form of centering
removes any between-individuals variance in estimates of within-
individual relations among the variables. This procedure ensures
that any relations among the Level 1 variables are not confounded
by between-dyads differences. We used HLM Version 6.0 (Rau-
denbush & Bryk, 2002) to analyze all the hierarchical models.
Results
Table 1 presents the means, standard deviations, and correla-
tions among all study variables at the individual level of analysis.
An examination of the means indicates that, on average, negotia-
tors conceded 6,649 points from their initial target goal. Although
the bivariate correlations must be interpreted with caution because
they do not consider the nested structure of the data, integrative
potential and concessions were negatively correlated, indicating
that negotiators conceded less in integrative negotiations compared
with negotiators in distributive negotiations. Straightforwardness
was positively correlated with both concern for the other party and
concessions, offering initial support for some of our basic propo-
sitions.
Prior to testing our hypotheses, it was important that we test an
underlying assumption made in developing our hypotheses: Did
those in the unequal power condition actually engage in negotia-
tions? Recall that it was theoretically possible for the high-power
negotiator in this condition to eschew negotiations altogether and
instead use his or her position power to determine the outcome. To
examine this possibility, we included a series of questions on the
final questionnaire for those in the unequal power condition. These
participants were asked, for each of the seven issues in negotiation,
whether the settlement reached on the issue “occurred voluntarily
through negotiation” or “was imposed by the Mountain negotia-
tor.” More responses in the latter category would indicate fewer
settlements achieved via negotiation; if all seven issues were
answered in this way, it would indicate that no outcomes were
achieved via negotiation. Fortunately, this was not the case. Across
the seven issues, the average number of issues settled through
negotiation in the unequal power condition was 5.74, and this
number was not significantly different whether reported by the
low- or the high-power negotiator. In other words, on average,
82% of the issues were settled via negotiation, and there were no
dyads in which all the settlements were imposed by the high-power
party.
It was also important that we rule out potential problems with
our use of difference scores in assessing concession behavior. The
use of differences scores as dependent variables introduces meth-
odological problems under three conditions: (a) when the compo-
nents of the difference score are positively correlated, (b) when the
Table 1
Descriptive Statistics and Correlations
Variable MSD1 234567
1. Integrative potential 0.45 0.50
2. Power 0.48 0.50 .05
3. Agreeableness 5.82 0.52 .06 .07 —
4. Altruism 5.89 0.56 .01 .08 .79
ⴱⴱ
5. Compliance 4.70 1.01 .05 .10 .59
ⴱⴱ
.34
ⴱⴱ
6. Straightforwardness 4.94 0.84 .04 .02 .39
ⴱⴱ
.32
ⴱⴱ
.34
ⴱⴱ
7. Concern for the other party 4.14 1.05 .02 .10 .09 .05 .11 .19
ⴱⴱ
8. Concessions 6648.69 3942.35 .20
ⴱⴱ
.00 .04 .03 .05 .24
ⴱⴱ
.09
Note. N 198.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
1038 DERUE, CONLON, MOON, AND WILLABY
relative variances of the individual components significantly dif-
fer, and (c) when the difference score confounds the effects of the
independent variable on the components of the difference score
(Edwards, 1995). In this study, none of these three conditions were
problematic. The two components of concession behavior, target
goal and actual point total, were not significantly correlated (r
.13, ns). For both the target goal and actual point total, one
standard deviation represented 20% of the mean value on these
variables, indicating that the relative variance for each component
was the same. Finally, for individuals in the equal power condition,
straightforwardness was not significantly related to either target
goal (r.13, ns) or actual point total (r.05, ns). For this last
condition, we focused exclusively on the equal power condition
because target goal was confounded with relative power in the
unequal power condition. Thus, with evidence that negotiators in
the unequal power condition engaged in the negotiation and that
our use of difference scores was not subject to common method-
ological problems, we moved forward with formal tests of our
hypotheses.
Hypothesis 1 predicted that straightforwardness would be pos-
itively related to concessions such that individuals who are more
straightforward in their dealings with other people will concede
more from their initial target goal. Our data (see Table 2) suggest
that for every unit increase in straightforwardness, negotiators
conceded, on average, 1,094 more points in the negotiation (
00
6648.69,
40
1094.31, p.05). Agreeableness, altruism, and
compliance had no effect on concession behavior. Thus, Hypoth-
esis 1 was supported.
Hypothesis 2 predicted that concern for other would mediate the
relationship between straightforwardness and concessions. We
tested this hypothesis using the methods outlined by Baron and
Kenny (1986) and MacKinnon et al. (2002), which require that
four conditions be met to infer mediation: (a) the independent
variable must be significantly related to the dependent variable, (b)
the independent variable must be significantly related to the me-
diator, (c) the mediator must be significantly related to the depen-
dent variable, and (d) the previously significant relationship be-
tween independent and dependent variables decreases and
becomes nonsignificant when controlling for the mediator. As
noted in the test of Hypothesis 1, the first of these conditions was
met.
With respect to the second condition, we regressed individuals’
concern for the other party on individuals’ straightforwardness,
controlling for the broad agreeableness factor, altruism, and com-
pliance. This relationship was positive and significant (
00
4.13,
40
.19, p.05), suggesting that more straightforward indi-
viduals also tend to have greater concern for their counterpart’s
interests and well-being. These data satisfy the second condition
for mediation. We tested the third condition for mediation by
regressing concessions on individuals’ concern for the other party
and found a strong, positive relationship between how much con-
cern individuals had for their counterpart and concessions (
10
1062.63, p.01). These data satisfy the third condition for
mediation. Regarding the fourth and final condition for mediation,
we regressed concessions on straightforwardness and concern for
the other party. As shown in Table 2, when controlling for concern
for the other party, the main effect for straightforwardness on
concessions becomes nonsignificant (
10
904.22, ns), and con-
cern for the other party has a significant effect on concessions
(
10
957.64, p.05). A Sobel test (Baron & Kenny, 1986;
Sobel, 1982) indicates that the effect of straightforwardness on
concessions decreased significantly when controlling for individ-
uals’ concern for the other party (z1.68, p.10), providing
evidence and support for mediation. Thus, Hypothesis 2 was
supported.
Hypothesis 3 predicted that integrative potential would moder-
ate the relationship between straightforwardness and concessions
such that the positive relationship between straightforwardness and
concessions would be most pronounced in distributive negotia-
tions. As shown in Table 3 and illustrated in Figure 2, integrative
potential did moderate the straightforwardness– concessions rela-
tionship such that highly straightforward negotiators conceded
more from their initial demands in distributive negotiations com-
pared with integrative negotiations (
41
⫽⫺1706.55, p.05). On
the strength of these results, Hypothesis 3 was supported.
Hypothesis 4 predicted that power would moderate the relation-
ship between straightforwardness and concessions such that the
positive relationship between straightforwardness and concessions
would be stronger in unequal power negotiations than in equal
power negotiations. Consistent with this hypothesis, our data (see
Table 3 and Figure 3) suggest that straightforwardness is a liabil-
ity, leading to more concessions from initial demands in unequal
power negotiations (
12
1915.53, p.05). On the basis of the
form of this interaction, our data also suggest that straightforward-
ness can be an asset in equal power negotiations in that negotiators
in equal power negotiations make fewer concessions from initial
Table 2
Results of Hierarchical Linear Modeling Analyses for Concessions on Straightforwardness and
Concern for the Other Party
Independent variable
Main effects Mediated effects
Coefficient SE Coefficient SE
Intercept (
00
)6648.69
ⴱⴱ
248.32 6636.56 284.89
Agreeableness (
10
)1131.70 1478.63 1441.48 1420.52
Altruism (
20
)554.98 1164.26 663.04 1111.53
Compliance (
30
)344.55 542.89 468.70 521.64
Straightforwardness (
40
)1094.31
479.71 904.22 465.19
Concern for the other party (
50
) — 957.64
413.44
Note. N 198 individuals; 99 dyads.
p.05.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
1039
STRAIGHTFORWARDNESS IN NEGOTIATIONS
demands when they are highly straightforward regarding their own
interests in the negotiation. Thus, Hypothesis 4 was partially
supported in that the relationship between straightforwardness and
concessions is positive for unequal power dyads. However, we did
not expect that this same relationship for equal power dyads would
shift from positive to negative. We expand on this particular
nuance of our data in our discussion of the study’s findings. Based
on the variance components from the hierarchical linear modeling
analysis, the two cross-level interactions between straightforward-
ness, integrative potential, and power collectively reduced the
Level 2 variance in the main effect of straightforwardness on
concessions by 90%.
Hypothesis 5 predicted that, within unequal power dyads only,
the relationship between straightforwardness and concessions
would be moderated by role (high power vs. low power). Specif-
ically, we predicted that straightforwardness would be more det-
rimental in terms of concessions when the negotiator was in the
high-power role as opposed to the low-power role. Consistent with
this hypothesis, our data (see Table 4 and Figure 4) suggest that
high-power negotiators do best when they are low in straightfor-
wardness but concede just as much as low-power negotiators when
they are high in dispositional straightforwardness. Thus, Hypoth-
esis 5 was supported.
Our formal hypotheses and the results presented thus far deal
specifically with understanding the impact of straightforwardness
and concern for the other party on individuals’ concessions from
their initial demands. This discussion and the data, however, do not
speak to the nature or pattern of concessions made during the
negotiation. To examine the nature or pattern of individuals’
concessions, we draw from the research of De Dreu, Carnevale,
Emans, and van de Vliert (1994). These authors established a
“concession index” that considered the movement parties made in
terms of position levels on specific issues. Following their ideas,
we examined the final settlement positions of each negotiator and
determined the amount of movement by counting the number of
positions they moved from their optimal settlement position on
each issue.
2
For instance (as can be seen in the Appendix), the
Mountain negotiators’ optimal settlement on the signing bonus
issue was 2%; a final settlement of 10% on this issue would be a
movement of four levels on this issue, whereas a final settlement
of 6% would be a movement of two levels on this issue. We
created two measures from these data. The movement on other’s
most important issues summed the amount of movement in posi-
tions each negotiator made on the three issues of most importance
to his or her opponent. The movement on other’s least important
issues summed the amount of movement in positions each nego-
tiator made on the three issues of least importance to his or her
opponent.
Using these indexes of concession behavior, we examined how
individuals’ concern for the other party predicted which issues
were conceded. As evident in Table 5, individuals high in concern
for the other party moved further away from their optimal settle-
ment point on the issues that were most important to the other
party but not on the other party’s least important issues. These data
illuminate a nuance in the relationship between concern for the
other party and individuals’ concession behavior. Even though an
individual might have a high concern for the other party, the
individual does not concede on all issues—just those that are most
important to the other party.
Discussion
Ultimately, negotiations involve some amount of concession
making by parties, or agreements cannot be reached. This study
examined how dispositional straightforwardness impacts negotia-
tor concession making and how this individual-level relationship is
influenced by two dyadic-level features of the negotiation context,
namely integrative potential and power. The empirical results from
this study suggest that straightforwardness is an important indi-
vidual difference that shapes negotiator behavior and ultimately
the outcome of the negotiation. Our discussion of this study
focuses on two implications of this research. We begin with a
consideration of how our results inform the literature on disposi-
tions in general and prior work on agreeableness and negotiations
in particular. Second, we consider the implications of our cross-
level influences on negotiator behavior.
Is Straightforwardness the Best Policy?
We investigated an understudied dispositional facet of negotia-
tors (straightforwardness, one facet of the personality dimension of
agreeableness) and its influence on a key behavior in negotiation
(concession making). Our study demonstrates the utility of exam-
ining specific facets of personality, and not just broad factors of
personality, in predicting negotiator behavior. We found that
greater levels of straightforwardness led to greater concessions
from initial demands by negotiators and that this relationship was
2
This measure assesses an individual’s concession from the optimal
settlement point for each issue. It does not assess concession from an
individual’s actual aspirations for each issue. To the extent individuals’
aspirations differ from their optimal settlement point for any particular
issue, these measures would diverge and represent two measures of con-
cession behavior. Future research that examines the conceptual and em-
pirical differences across these two forms of concession behavior would
make a noteworthy contribution to the literature on negotiations.
Table 3
Results of Hierarchical Linear Modeling Analyses for
Concessions on Straightforwardness, Integrative Potential,
and Power
Independent variable
Cross-level moderated effects
Coefficient SE
Intercept (
00
)6648.69
ⴱⴱ
273.51
Integrative potential (
01
)
a
1553.16
ⴱⴱ
545.26
Power (
02
)
b
69.50 543.35
Agreeableness (
10
)713.64 1405.74
Altruism (
20
)326.13 1109.85
Compliance (
30
)459.75 527.51
Straightforwardness (
40
)932.24 441.76
Integrative potential (
41
)
a
1706.55
784.66
Power (
42
)
b
1915.53
820.30
Note. N 198 individuals; 99 dyads.
a
Dummy coded (distributive 0, integrative 1).
b
Dummy coded
(equal power 0, unequal power 1).
p.05.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
1040 DERUE, CONLON, MOON, AND WILLABY
moderated by the integrative potential of the negotiation task and
the relative power the disputants possessed. Our results also pro-
vide support for the dual concern model of negotiation and its
emphasis on negotiator concern for the other party as a mediating
variable between the dispositional factor of straightforwardness
and the behavioral act of concession making. We propose that
those high in straightforwardness desire to develop a sincere and
genuine relationship with the other party, and this desire leads to
a greater concern for the other party. That said, the present study
offers limited insight into the psychological processes that explain
why straightforwardness leads to this greater concern for others.
We encourage other scholars to investigate this relationship further
by examining the psychological processes that link straightfor-
wardness with one’s concern for others.
In this study, we also demonstrated that the broad factor of
agreeableness and other facets (altruism, compliance) had no effect
on concessions in our study, whereas the specific facet of straight-
forwardness did. Thus, our study adds to a growing number of
studies suggesting that relationships at the facet level can be quite
different from relationships with the broad personality factors
(e.g., Griffin & Hesketh, 2004; Moon, 2001). That said, it should
be noted that the magnitude of effect sizes for straightforwardness
and the broad agreeableness factor are similar (see Table 2). The
agreeableness effect does not reach statistical significance because
of a high standard error. One potential implication of this, not-
withstanding the high standard error for agreeableness, is that
straightforwardness and agreeableness might have independent
effects on concession behavior and quite possibly impact conces-
sions through different mediational mechanisms. This is a nuance
in our data that future research should explore.
We focused on agreeableness in part because there has been
some prior work in negotiations linking this personality dimension
to negotiation behavior in both integrative and distributive nego-
tiations (Barry & Friedman, 1998). Given our results at the facet
level, which are not identical to those found by Barry and Fried-
man (1998; more on this below), we suggest that it may be prudent
to examine how facets of other personality dimensions might
impact negotiations. For instance, facet-level constructs such as
anxiety, achievement striving, and ideas (facets relating to the
emotional stability, conscientiousness, and openness to experience
5500
6000
6500
8000
8500
8500
Low Straightforwardness High Straightforwardness
Integrative
Distributive
Concessions
Figure 2. Effects of integrative potential on the relationship between straightforwardness and concessions.
6400
6450
6500
6550
6600
6650
6700
6750
Low Straightforwardness High Str aightforwar dness
Concessions
Uneq ual Po we
r
Equal Power
Figure 3. Effects of power on the relationship between straightforwardness and concessions.
1041
STRAIGHTFORWARDNESS IN NEGOTIATIONS
dimensions of the Big Five, respectively) may also have important
consequences for negotiator behavior, such as concession making
and recognition of integrative potential in negotiations, even if the
broad personality factors do not.
By way of example, we can compare our results with those of
Barry and Friedman (1998). These authors found that agreeable-
ness was a liability in distributive negotiations but had no effect on
integrative negotiations. In contrast, we found that straightfor-
wardness was a liability (led to more concession from initial
demands) in both integrative and distributive negotiations, though
our interaction results document that the effect was stronger in
distributive than in integrative negotiations. It may be that our
discovery of a main effect for straightforwardness on concessions
is because we focused on the aspect of agreeableness most closely
related to information exchange, a central mechanism in commu-
nicating value in negotiations. However, there is another possible
explanation for why our results differ from those of prior work.
In the Barry and Friedman (1998) studies, the distributive and
integrative negotiation tasks were very different in terms of com-
plexity. The distributive negotiation was over a single issue,
whereas the integrative negotiation was over multiple issues. Thus,
the two negotiations in their study differed in terms of complexity
as well as in terms of whether the parties valued the issues
similarly or differently. A notable contribution of our study is that,
to our knowledge, it is the first study to use an identical negotiation
task to examine distributive and integrative negotiations. By using
the same task and the same number of issues, we eliminate the
number of issues as an alternative explanation for our findings—an
internal validity threat that prior studies on distributive and inte-
grative negotiations could not eliminate. Thus, we could summa-
rize our results as follows: In complex negotiations with numerous
issues, straightforwardness increases concessions from initial de-
mands, and this effect is even stronger when the negotiation is
distributive rather than integrative. One question for future re-
search is whether these patterns hold in less complex negotiations
tasks, such as those with a single issue.
Another contribution and strength of this study is its use of
multilevel theory and analytics to understand how personality,
integrative potential, and power come together to influence nego-
tiation processes and outcomes. Clearly, different conclusions are
possible at different levels of analysis (Morgeson & Hofmann,
1999). For instance, whereas Barry and Friedman (1998) found
that agreeableness can be a liability at the individual level of
analysis, we developed and tested a multilevel model that suggests
straightforwardness can be an asset under certain higher order
conditions (equal power) and a liability under other higher-order
conditions (unequal power, distributive negotiations). Given the
link between straightforwardness and concern for others, one po-
tential reason for why straightforwardness could be an asset in
equal power contexts is that it facilitates greater cooperation
among negotiators. Without this straightforwardness and concern
for others, equal power negotiators may be less inclined to share
information and explore the preferences of other parties, thereby
forcing individuals to make greater concessions than they would
otherwise to reach a settlement. This finding illustrates just how
important the negotiation context is for understanding the impact
of individuals’ dispositions on negotiation processes and out-
comes. Whereas few studies have considered the role of person-
ality in negotiation, even fewer studies have examined how
0
1000
2000
3000
4000
5000
6000
7000
8000
9000
10000
Low Straightforwardness High Straightforwardness
Concessions
Low Power
Hig h P ower
Figure 4. Effects of power on the relationship between straightforwardness and concessions in unequal power
negotiations.
Table 4
Results of Hierarchical Linear Modeling Analyses for
Concessions on Straightforwardness and Role
Independent variable
Level 1 moderated effects
Coefficient SE
Intercept (
00
)6646.25
ⴱⴱ
422.60
Agreeableness (
10
)1285.67 2147.19
Altruism (
20
)436.79 1753.09
Compliance (
30
)451.99 593.02
Straightforwardness (
40
)125.73 504.92
Role (
50
)
a
18082.45
ⴱⴱ
5062.03
Straightforwardness Role (
60
)3443.09
ⴱⴱ
1011.97
Note. N 96 individuals; 48 dyads.
a
Dummy coded (low power 0, high power 1).
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
1042 DERUE, CONLON, MOON, AND WILLABY
individual-level personality interacts with contextual features of
the negotiation task or relationship among parties to shape indi-
vidual negotiator behavior and ultimately the outcome of the
negotiation. In this sense, the field of negotiation studies could
really benefit from a conceptual model illustrating how different
features of the negotiation context help shape the role of individual
dispositions such as personality in negotiations.
As in any study, this study is not without limitations. The use of
students as the basis for our sample highlights the importance of
examining the role of personality and power in negotiation, as well
as differences between integrative and distributive negotiations, in
a field setting. Nonetheless, the sample and laboratory setting used
in this study are reasonable for two reasons. First, students often
find themselves in contexts in which they must negotiate. Second,
students are often involved in negotiations that involve power
disparities (e.g., student–professor disputes, tenant–landlord dis-
putes).
One might also be concerned that the present negotiations
involved relatively short time frames and occurred between parties
with little to no prior contact. In this particular study, no two
parties within a negotiating dyad knew each other prior to the
experiment, and participants were given up to 45 min to negotiate.
Interestingly, these attributes of laboratory studies (and real-world
negotiation contexts) may actually suppress the strength of rela-
tionships between our key variables. Because of the short time
frames and minimal prior interaction, straightforward negotiators
have less of an opportunity to evaluate their opponents and deter-
mine their level of concern for the other side. In fact, these features
of the experimental context enable us to isolate the effects of
straightforwardness, whereas in a field setting this would be more
difficult. Also, one needs to keep the nature of the research
question in mind when assessing the relevance of external validity
(Berkowitz & Donnerstein, 1982). With regard to the present
study, there is no apparent reason why the relationships we pro-
pose could not be tested in this specific context.
Another potential limitation of this study is related to the context
of the negotiation task used with dyads in the equal power condi-
tion. In this condition, negotiators assumed the role of represen-
tatives from two merging companies. In this role, negotiators
sought to reconcile divergent human resource management poli-
cies between the two merging organizations. As a result, goal
interdependency might be higher in this context than in other
negotiation tasks in which little integrative potential exists. This is
also related to the reward structure we used in this study. We used
a reward structure that valued both individual and dyadic perfor-
mance. We chose this particular hybrid reward structure because it
reflected many negotiations in practice, especially those related to
our context of two firms being integrated owing to merger or
acquisition. However, future research that manipulates goal inter-
dependence in the negotiation task or reward structure would be a
noteworthy extension of our study.
Future Research
Findings from the present study illuminate several specific areas
of inquiry for future research. Albeit beyond the scope of this
study, personality may in fact influence concession-making behav-
ior via processes other than one’s concern for the other party. For
instance, Barry and Friedman (1998) discussed the effects of
anchoring. Certain individuals (or dyads), depending on their
dispositional orientation, may engage in more extensive anchoring
that, in turn, biases judgments of the underlying economic struc-
ture of the negotiation. Individuals’ optimism may be one such
factor that influences this process (Scheier et al., 1989). Thus, we
certainly recommend that researchers explore the effects of other
facets of personality in negotiation contexts.
In addition, building on French and Raven’s (1959) conceptu-
alizations of legitimate power, we conceptualized power in this
study in structural terms and operationalized it as the potential for
one party to determine the joint outcome. This characterization of
power differences may be found more frequently in hierarchical
settings such as organizations than in other environments. Al-
though such an operationalization is similar to how power has been
construed in some prior studies (e.g., the supervisor–subordinate
power distinction used by De Dreu & van Kleef, 2004), it is clearly
different from other studies (e.g., Kim & Fragale, 2005; Vitz &
Kite, 1970). For instance, the presence and quality of individuals’
best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) are common
methods by which power is manipulated, and some prior research
has investigated power differences by manipulating the quality of
these BATNAs (e.g., Pinkley, Neale, & Bennett, 1994). Other
work has created variation in the perception of one’s general sense
of power by having people recall an instance in which they had
power over someone or when someone had power over them (e.g.,
Galinsky, Gruenfeld, & Magee, 2003).
Future research should explore the conclusions of the present
study using other forms of power. For example, although having
less structural power or a comparatively weaker BATNA might
lead negotiators to make concessions, perhaps it is easier to bluff
and behave as if one had a better BATNA than it is to behave as
if one had more structural power, suggesting that there would be
even more concession making by a negotiator with low structural
power than a negotiator with a low BATNA. It would also be
interesting to see how both power manipulations influenced a
negotiator’s general sense of power (see Galinsky et al., 2003).
Future research examining whether different structural variations
of power create similar or different psychological reactions or
negotiation behavior would be particularly noteworthy.
Finally, our study focuses exclusively on economic-oriented
concessionary behavior, and as a result, we cannot speak to the
impact of straightforwardness and concern for others on intangible
negotiation outcomes (e.g., perceptions, attitudes). Researchers
have long criticized the relative lack of attention paid to the
intangible outcomes of negotiation (e.g., Rubin & Brown, 1975).
Table 5
Results of Hierarchical Linear Modeling Analyses for
Concessions on Most and Least Important Issues
Independent variable
Most important
issues
Least important
issues
Coefficient SE Coefficient SE
Intercept (
00
)6.88 0.17 5.12 0.17
Concern for the other party (
10
)0.88
ⴱⴱ
0.20 0.39 0.25
Note. N 198 individuals; 99 dyads.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
1043
STRAIGHTFORWARDNESS IN NEGOTIATIONS
In a review of the negotiation literature from 1993 to 2002,
intangible outcomes were included in only 16% of studies (Mest-
dagh & Buelens, 2003). A broad array of intangible outcomes were
beyond the scope of this article, but future research should seek to
extend our findings beyond economic outcomes and examine
negotiator perceptions and attitudes such as justice and fairness
perceptions, trust, and relationship quality. Research by Curhan,
Elfenbein, and Xu (2006) identified a range of intangible outcomes
that might be particularly important in negotiation contexts and
thus might serve as a guiding framework for this line of research.
Managerial Implications
Negotiations play a vital role in many managerial situations. From
mergers and acquisitions to employees negotiating employment con-
tracts, the number and type of dyadic negotiations are vast. Thus,
understanding what factors influence the nature of these negotiations
has significant implications for managers. Results from the present
study indicate that negotiator straightforwardness is more of a liability
in some situations than others. Herein we argue that managers have
two basic alternatives for managing these issues in dyadic negotia-
tions. We then discuss the implications of this study for training
individuals in negotiation contexts.
Given that straightforwardness is especially troublesome in distrib-
utive negotiations, one option managers may want to pursue is to
create more integrative potential in negotiations. Pruitt and Carnevale
(1993) and Lewicki et al. (2006) identified numerous ways managers
can increase the integrative potential of any negotiation. One ap-
proach suggests that managers find ways to increase the available
resources so that both sides can achieve their objectives (i.e.,
expand the pie). In addition, managers can add issues to the
negotiation such that both parties will be able to make concessions
on issues that are of low priority to them and high priority to the
other party. A final tactic for increasing integrative potential is for
managers to further their understanding of the concerns that un-
derlie the positions taken by the other party and seek to resolve
those concerns. These concerns may involve goals, values, or
principles, some of which may not be reconcilable without inter-
vention from a third party. These three approaches should increase
the integrative potential in the negotiation and may also reduce the
use of behaviors (threats, bluffs, etc.) that are difficult for the
straightforward negotiator to use effectively. However, we recog-
nize that increasing the integrative potential of a negotiation is not
always an option.
Another option that has received little attention in the negotia-
tions literature is to focus on the training of negotiators. The
present study complements prior research on personality and ne-
gotiation (e.g., Barry & Friedman, 1998; Moberg, 1998) by further
documenting the impact of personality on the behavior of negoti-
ators and outcomes of the negotiation. On the basis of these
findings, we expect there is an opportunity for organizations to
train individuals how to be more or less straightforward in nego-
tiations depending on what the situational context calls for (e.g.,
whether there is equal or unequal power between negotiators). Our
findings suggest that negotiator performance could be enhanced if
individuals could be trained to identify the type of negotiation task
and any power differences between negotiators and, on the
strength of this information, adapt how straightforward they would
be in their dealings with other negotiating parties. Conversely,
personality is often considered a fairly stable disposition of indi-
viduals and, as a result, is often considered an important selection
tool for organizations (Schmit & Ryan, 1993). Although the cur-
rent study does not address the full set of decision rules and
processes that would be required to use straightforwardness sys-
tematically as a selection criterion for negotiators, it does raise the
question of whether negotiators can be trained to adapt their
dispositional tendencies across different negotiation contexts, or
whether straightforwardness is best used as a selection tool. Future
research that examines the relative validity of training to be more
or less straightforward according to the situation, versus selecting
negotiators on the basis of their dispositional straightforwardness,
would go a long way toward helping organizations extend our
findings into the realm of practice.
In conclusion, our results suggest that straightforwardness gener-
ally leads to greater concession making, and the strength of this
relationship depends on structural and relational elements of the
negotiation task, namely integrative potential and power. In this sense,
the present research further highlights the dilemma of honesty,
whereby a negotiator who is dispositionally oriented toward being
straightforward risks reaching a suboptimal outcome. However, we
also extend our understanding of the dilemma of honesty by specify-
ing a new underlying mechanism through which this occurs (concern
for the other party), as well as boundary conditions for when straight-
forwardness is truly a liability in dyadic negotiations.
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Appendix
Payoff Structures for the Distributive and Integrative Negotiations
Settlement
Points
Mountain
distributive and
integrative
Pinnacle
Distributive Integrative
Signing bonus (%)
10 0 1,600 4,000
8 400 1,200 3,000
6 800 800 2,000
4 1,200 400 1,000
2 1,600 0 0
Vacation time (days)
25 0 4,000 1,600
20 1,000 3,000 1,200
15 2,000 2,000 800
10 3,000 1,000 400
5 4,000 0 0
Starting date for college graduates
June 1 0 2,400 6,000
June 15 600 1,800 4,500
July 1 1,200 1,200 3,000
July 15 1,800 600 1,500
August 1 2,400 0 0
Moving expense coverage (%)
100 0 800 3,200
90 200 600 2,400
80 400 400 1,600
70 600 200 800
60 800 0 0
Insurance coverage plan
A 0 3,200 800
B 800 2,400 600
C 1,600 1,600 400
D 2,400 800 200
E 3,200 0 0
(table continues)
1046 DERUE, CONLON, MOON, AND WILLABY
Appendix (continued)
Settlement
Points
Mountain
distributive and
integrative
Pinnacle
Distributive Integrative
Salary
$50,000 0 6,000 2,400
$48,000 1,500 4,500 1,800
$46,000 3,000 3,000 1,200
$44,000 4,500 1,500 600
$42,000 6,000 0 0
Training center location
Boston 0 0 0
New York 300 300 300
Chicago 600 600 600
Los Angeles 900 900 900
San Francisco 1,200 1,200 1,200
Received February 21, 2008
Revision received November 13, 2008
Accepted November 24, 2008
1047
STRAIGHTFORWARDNESS IN NEGOTIATIONS
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... In the current work, we define the outcome potential as the total amount of economic profit that can be created within the scope of the predefined business plans, for instance, through integrative tradeoffs regarding different issues, periods of time, market segments, and business partners. In that sense, the integrative potential-defined as possibilities for enlarging the pie beyond mere compromises in one-shot negotiations (e.g., DeRue et al., 2009;Kong et al., 2014)-represents a subset of the outcome potential in B2B negotiations. In the following, we will illustrate in detail how B2B parties can increase their economic outcomes across the other three trade-off dimensions. ...
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Practitioners in business-to-business (B2B) organizations often report difficulties to reach mutually beneficial outcomes in their buyer-seller negotiations—a finding that contrasts with researchers’ expectations based on the favorable preconditions B2B negotiations provide. In this conceptual article, we argue that this researcher-practitioner gap is due to a structural dilemma: On the one hand, B2B negotiations offer specific trade-off opportunities across multiple dimensions (i.e., issues, time periods, markets, and business partners). On the other hand, rigid financial budgets resulting from management control systems constrain negotiators’ necessary flexibility to exploit these opportunities. We propose that negotiators translate financial budgets into negotiation limits. Depending on the structure of these budgets, negotiators set one superordinate limit or multiple subordinate limits, which either maximize or restrain their ability to realize tradeoffs. We outline future-research opportunities for extending the negotiation literature by investigating multidimensional tradeoffs and different types of limits. We conclude with recommendations on how B2B negotiators can overcome their dilemma.
... Increased other-concern (whether measured as unmitigated communal orientation, Amanatullah et al. 2008, or as straightforwardness, DeRue et al. 2009) is associated with increased concession making in negotiations due to higher value of the relationship (Amanatullah et al. 2008). Importantly, research on other-focus and relationships in negotiations has hardly found direct effects on integrative outcomes (Amanatullah et al. 2008;DeRue et al. 2009; Thompson and DeHarpport 1998;Fry et al. 1983;Thompson et al. 1996). In our third experiment, we therefore investigate concession making as response to a first offer from the other party. ...
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Dovish and hawkish constituency pressures influence representative negotiations. Dovish constituency voices promote a collaborative and problem-solving approach, but can also allow for exploitation in negotiations. Hawkish voices encourage a competitive approach, but may leave value on the table. These dynamics are investigated in four experiments. In two interactive dyadic-negotiation experiments (Experiments 1 & 2; N = 186 and N = 220), we investigated how constituency pressures influenced outcomes in two negotiation settings (distributive and integrative). Representatives of dovish constituencies reached higher negotiation outcomes than representatives of hawkish constituencies, when facing a representative with a similar constituency (Experiment 1). However, when representatives with a dovish constituency met with representatives of a hawkish constituency, dovish representatives reached lower gains in both negotiation settings (Experiment 2). This hawkish advantage was replicated in two online scenario studies (Experiments 3 & 4; N = 248 and N = 319). There was no consistent empirical support for the role of a potential future interaction in eliciting representatives’ concessions (Experiment 1–3), however, an absence of accountability to constituents reduced representatives’ competitiveness, irrespective of whom they represented (Experiment 4). Theoretical and practical implications for labor relations, diplomacy, and business negotiations are discussed.
... With regard to personality traits, a meta-analysis by Sharma et al. (2013) found that the only trait predicting economic outcomes in negotiations was the Big Five trait of extraversion, which was a negative predictor of distributive negotiation outcomes and a positive predictor of integrative negotiation outcomes. In two studies, Dimotakis et al. (2012) found the same moderated effects for agreeableness, but these effects did not remain in the meta-analysis (for other findings related to agreeableness, see Amanatullah et al., 2008;Barry & Friedman, 1998;DeRue et al., 2009). Somewhat relatedly, there have been signs that prosocial motivation could lead to improved joint outcomes, but only under conditions of high resistance to yielding in a negotiation-that is, negotiator aspirations so high that only active collaboration could enable agreement (De Dreu et al., 2000). ...
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Lay intuition suggests that some people are better than others at strategic social interaction. Nonetheless, identifying reliable predictors of individual differences in negotiation performance has been difficult. In this investigation, we hypothesized that an individuals' skill in understanding the structure of socially interdependent situations, and in best responding to others' likely behavior in such situations, should predict their negotiation performance. We adapted existing and novel social guessing games to measure such skills. In a series of studies with students and business executives in Russia and Sweden, performance in the guessing games predicted better individual outcomes and better joint outcomes in dyadic negotiations. Guessing‐game performance remained predictive of both outcomes after proxies for general mental ability were controlled for. Potential applications to larger‐scale phenomena are discussed.
... Information sharing is also important. Research suggests that extraverts can perform poorly in distributive negotiations because they talk too much and give away information (Amanatullah, Morris, & Curhan, 2008;DeRue, Conlon, Moon, & Willaby, 2009). In one of the classes, a student told another team what his team paid for a resource. ...
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To help instructors teach students the meaning of negotiations, and to help students understand the different types of negotiations, we developed the “Negotiate to Survive” activity. In this activity, students work in teams to participate in both distributive and integrative negotiations, in an effort to help them understand the difference between the two. Statistical results show both that the activity helped students understand the difference between the two negotiation types and that they enjoyed participating in it. Student comments support the statistical results.
... As experiments are "the best method for finding whether one thing really causes another" (Aronson et al. 1990 p. 9), we conducted a laboratory experiment to causally assess how AEs' affiliations' academic reputation and industrial experience affect their counterparts' perceptions toward and negotiation behaviors against AEs in the context of a first-time, one-shot negotiation. Our choice of experimental design is also consistent with most prior negotiation studies (e.g., DeRue et al. 2009;Kray et al. 2014). ...
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This study examines the stereotypes associated with academic entrepreneurs (AEs) and their negotiation counterparts’ consequential collaborative behavior. A pilot study of in-depth interviews with 10 AEs showed that AEs considered their affiliations’ academic reputation and industrial experience important in influencing their business counterparts’ perceptions about them, which were characterized by two stereotype dimensions: warmth and competence. These constructs were integrated with stereotype content model literature and earlier research on AEs to develop a conceptual model about how stereotypes associated with AEs influence their counterparts’ collaborative behavior in negotiations. We tested this model by conducting an experiment using 192 small- and medium-sized enterprise CEOs and executives as subjects. The results showed that AEs’ academic reputation positively predicted their perceived competence, whereas AEs’ industry experience negatively influenced their perceived warmth and positively influenced their perceived competence. Furthermore, both competence and warmth perceptions were found to contribute to negotiation counterparts’ collaborative behavior.
... Power continues to serve as an important construct underlying and explaining interpersonal and organizational exchanges (Pfeffer, 2010), and is a topic of particular prominence in the negotiation literature (Kim, Pinkley, & Fragale, 2005). Numerous scholarly and practitioner-oriented works discuss the role of power in influencing outcomes (e.g., DeRue, Conlon, Moon, & Willaby, 2009;Galinsky, Gruenfeld, & Magee, 2003;Lewicki, Barry, & Saunders, 2015;Magee, Galinsky, & Gruenfeld, 2007). Whether power is derived through structural (e.g., hierarchical role differences or control over resources), psychological (e.g., recall of prior situations when one had power), or situational (e.g., seating position or the possession of highly valued alternatives) mechanisms (cf. ...
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We examine the notion of a Phantom BATNA – a negotiation alternative that may or may not materialize – and its impact on a current negotiation. Across three studies, we investigate the impact of such alternatives on negotiation, and compare them to when negotiators have a certain BATNA, when they have no BATNA, or when they are provided no information whatsoever regarding a BATNA. We demonstrate that perceptions of power mediate the effects of BATNA likelihood on the performance-related outcomes (final settlements or counter-offers) of negotiators. We establish these effects when the alternative has a known or an unknown likelihood of occurring. Additionally, BATNA likelihood influences the extent to which negotiators mention the possibility of an alternative to their counterpart during the negotiation. Based on our investigation, we offer BATNA likelihood as an important dimension of BATNA influence that can enhance theoretical and practical understanding, and stimulate future research.
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This research takes a new perspective on the long-standing mystery of personality in negotiation, which has seen decades of null and inconsistent findings. Grounded in interactionist theories defining personality as consistency in behaviors when placed multiple times in the same situation, the investigation examines consistency in individuals’ behavioral profiles across negotiation partners. Such consistency supports efforts to identify enduring dispositions that can predict objective and subjective outcomes. A comprehensive set of behaviors related to negotiation was coded in a round-robin study using groups of four negotiators who each took turns working with each other person. Analysis using Kenny’s Social Relations Model revealed evidence for extensive actor effects (indicating consistency in negotiators’ behavior), as well as moderate partner effects (indicating consistency in counterparts’ behavior) and dyadic reciprocity (indicating similarity in the behavior of negotiators and counterparts). We conclude with optimism for investigating the effects of personality in negotiation.
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