How We Feel About the Deal

Hal Movius
Negotiation Journal
April 2011

Recent experimental research suggests that humans are prone to systematic errors when determining how they currently feel, imagining how they will feel about future events, remembering how they have felt about past events, and understanding the preferences that underlie their decisions. In this article, we briefly review three basic assumptions that are called into question by recent findings regarding specific kinds of errors that people are prone to make. We suggest that this line of research has important implications for negotiation theory, research, advice, and practice.

Introduction

Have you ever bid for something online after imagining your joy at owning it, only to find that weeks later the thrill is gone? Or felt sure that mileage was the most important feature in the car you sought, only to fall prey to a surprisingly comfortable model with leather seats and a great stereo system? Why is it that realtors sometimes listen politely when we describe exactly what we want in a house but then move quickly to show us a wide range of homes, some of which are dissimilar to what we described? How good are we at knowing our current and past feelings, and anticipating our future feelings? Recent research suggests that the answer in some situations is “not so good,” and this has implications for both negotiations and negotiation theory. Specifically, three basic assumptions are worth examining more closely in view of these empirical findings.

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