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A nasty but effective negotiation strategy: misrepresentation of a common-value issue


Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin


Organisational Behaviour

Publishing details

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 1997 Vol 23:5 p 504-515

Authors / Editors

O'Connor K M;Carnevale P J

Publication Year



Conflicts sometimes involve issues for which both parties want the same outcome, although frequently parties fail to recognize their shared interests. These common-value issues set the stage for a nasty misrepresentation strategy: feigning opposed interest on the common-value issue to gain an advantage on other issues. In a laboratory negotiation simulation, participants used misrepresentation in 28% of their negotiations. The strategy was more likely to occur when negotiators had individualistic motives and was less likely to occur when both parties realized their common interests. Use of the strategy led to favorable outcomes, and these were best predicted by negotiator aspirations, rather than perceptual accuracy. The authors discovered two forms of the strategy: misrepresentation by commission (the user actively misrepresented his or her common-value issue preferences) and misrepresentation by omission (the user concealed his or her common-value issue interests when the other person made a favorable offer).

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