Agreement bias is the tendency to agree (“settle”) in a negotiation even if the outcome is disadvantageous.
During negotiation, participants’ positions and interests may be significantly different.
Skillful negotiators usually end the discussion if it is unlikely to move beyond a stalemate.
Negotiators may accept a disadvantageous deal for reasons besides personality traits, explained Carnegie Mellon’s Taya Cohen and Leigh Thompson of Northwestern with University of Toronto’s Geoffrey J. Leonardelli.
◦ Sunk Costs: Participants may wish to achieve any resolution, to derive some sense of value for the invested time and effort,
◦ Image: Negotiators may wish to appear likeable,
◦ Erroneous Anchoring: People may assume that their interests and the negotiation partner’s are mutually exclusive.
◦ Strength in Numbers: Negotiators who are outnumbered by the other negotiation team tend to agree to suboptimal deals.
As a result, negotiators may overlook “integrative” (“and/both”) solutions,
People negotiating teams tend to be less susceptible to agreement bias when positions and interests significantly differ, found Cohen, Thompson, and Leonardelli.
Solo negotiators demonstrated more agreeable behavior, and were more likely to agree to unfavourable conditions.
When solo negotiators were joined by only one person, they avoided unfavorable agreements thanks to additional decision support.
Agreement bias even occurs in anonymous surveys, reported Douglas Jackson, then of Educational Testing Services and Penn State.
This acquiescence bias, is triggered when people agree to survey items no matter the content.
Social desirability concern can accelerate agreements in negotiations, surveys, and life, found Jackson and his ETS colleague Samuel Messick in a factor analysis of Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) items.
Inaccurate judgments can lead also to unfavorable agreements, noted SMU’s Robin L. Pinkley, Terri L. Griffith of Santa Clara University, and University of Illinois’s Gregory B. Northcraft.
Pinkley’s group demonstrated ineffective outcomes when negotiators :
- Accurately processed inaccurate or incomplete information
(information availability errors),
- Inaccurately processed valid or complete information
(information processing errors).
-*How do you guard against agreeing to bad deals?
-*How do you reduce Information availability errors and information processing errors?
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