Tag Archives: anchoring

Range Offers vs Point Offers for Advantageous Negotiation Settlements

Daniel Ames

Daniel Ames

Many people avoid making negotiation offers as a range of values, because they are concerned that co-negotiators will “anchor” on the range’s lower value. 

The power of first offers as negotiation anchors was demonstrated in research by University of Chicago’s Nicholas Epley and Thomas Gilovich of Cornell.

Malia F Mason

Malia F Mason

However, range offers actually led to stronger outcomes in controlled studies by Columbia University’s Daniel R. Ames and Malia F. Mason.
This team suggested that range offers provide “dual anchors” that signal a negotiator’s knowledge of value and politeness.

Nicholas Epley

Nicholas Eple

Negotiators’ credibility, interpersonal style, and value awareness are also associated with the anchor value’s influence settlement outcomes.

Thomas Gilovich

Thomas Gilovich

Range and point opening offers have varying impacts, depending on the proposer’s perceived preparation, credibility, politeness, and reasonableness.

Ames and Mason tested three types of negotiation proposal ranges:

  • Bolstering range includes the target point value as the bottom of the range and an aspirational value as the top of the range.
    This strategy usually yields generous counteroffers and higher settlement prices, and is recommended based on their research.

  • Backdown range features the target point value as the upper end of the range and a concession value as the lower offer.
    This approach often leads to accepting the lower value and is not recommended.

  • Bracketing range spans the target point offer and often has neutral settlement outcomes for the offer-maker.
    This tactic provides some relational benefits because they were seen as less aggressive.
Martin Schweinsberg

Martin Schweinsberg

Extreme anchors can be seen as aggressive and may lead to negotiation breakdown, according to INSEAD’s Martin Schweinsberg with Gillian Ku of London Business School, collaborating with Cynthia S. Wang of University of Michigan, and National University of Singapore’s Madan M. Pillutla.
Even negotiators with little power in their studies were more likely to walk away from extreme anchors.
Likewise, high-power negotiators said they were offended by extreme anchors.

Gilliam Ku

Gilliam Ku

Previously, Mason and team showed the benefit of precise single number offers, and these findings suggest the value of range offers.

The research group concluded that point offers and range offers are independent and interactive processes that influence settlement values:

“…bolstering-range offers shape the perceived location of the offer-maker’s reservation price, (and) precise first offers shape the perceived credibility of the offer-maker’s price proposal.

  • When do you prefer to present a precise negotiation offers instead of a negotiation range?

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Nothing to Lose: Effective Negotiating Even When “Powerless”

Michael Schaerer

Most negotiators prefer to have a “fall back position.”
However, having no alternatives and less power than co-negotiators can improve outcomes, found INSEAD’s Michael Schaerer and Roderick Swaab with Adam Galinsky of Columbia.

When an alternative is weak, it can undermine negotiating outcomes.
An alternative can establish ananchor point, a frequent cognitive bias characterized by overvaluing one piece of information, according to Hebrew University’s late Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman of Princeton.

Adam Galinsky

Adam Galinsky

People with weak alternatives often make lower first offers than negotiators with no alternative.
“Lowball” first offers usually undermine a negotiator’s final outcome.

Professional athletes and their agents provide examples of negotiating better deals when they have no “back up” offers and “nothing to lose.”  They can set ambitious anchor points, and may arrive at a more favourable settlement.

Amos Tversky

Amos Tversky

Schaerer and team asked a hundred people whether they would prefer to negotiate a job offer with a weak alternative or without any alternative.
More than 90 percent of participants preferred an unattractive alternative offer, confirming the assumption that any alternative is  better than no alternative.

Schaerer asked volunteers to imagine trying to sell previously-owned music in one of three conditions when they had:

  • No offers (no alternative),
  • One offer at USD $2 (weak alternative),
  • A bid at USD $8 (strong alternative).
Roderick Swaab

Roderick Swaab

Volunteers in each group proposed a first offer, and rated the degree of power they felt.
People with the “strong” alternative felt the most powerful and those with no alternative felt the least powerful.

Volunteers with a weak alternative felt more powerful than those with no alternative, but they made lower first offers.
This signaled that they had less confidence than participants with no alternative.
Conclusion: Having any alternative can help people feel powerful but can undermine negotiation performance.

Schaerer’s team investigated by pairing a  “seller,” who offered to sell a coffee mug to a potential “buyer.”

Before meeting, the seller received a phone call from “another buyer,” who was a confederate of the researchers.
The potential buyer either made a low offer for half of the sellers or declined to bid for the remaining sellers.

Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman

Sellers without an alternative offer said they felt less powerful, but made higher first offers and received significantly higher sales prices than negotiators with an unattractive alternative.

In another situation, half of the “sellers” concentrated on available alternatives (none, weak, or strong) and the remaining negotiators focused on the target price.

Volunteers with unappealing alternatives negotiated worse deals than those with no options when they focused on alternatives.
“Sellers” avoided this pitfall by concentrating on the target price.
Conclusion:  Focus on the goal when alternatives are weak.

Negotiators with non-existent or unappealing alternatives can set audacious goals and make an ambitious opening offer because they have the benefit of “nothing to lose.”
This strategy usually renders better results for the disadvantaged negotiator.

  • How do you overcome lowball anchoring when you have few negotiation alternatives?

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Precise Negotiation Offers Yield Better Bargaining Results

Malia F Mason

Malia F Mason

Opening negotiation offers usually anchor the discussion and shape settlement values.
Many people make opening offers in “round” numbers like $10 instead of “precise” numbers like $9.
This strategy rendered less effective results in negotiation experiments, reported Columbia’s Malia Mason, Alice J. Lee, Elizabeth A. Wiley, and Daniel Ames.

Y Charles Zhang

Y Charles Zhang

Negotiators can improve negotiation outcomes by specifying offers in precise values because they more potently anchored the negotiation range.
In addition, negotiators who proposed precise offers were perceived as more confident, credible, and “well-informed” regarding actual value.

Norbert Schwartz

Norbert Schwartz

Consumers reported less confidence in precise estimates when they doubt the communicator, found University of Michigan’s Y. Charles Zhang and Norbert Schwarz of University of Southern California.

Some recipients of precise offers view these proposals by their negotiation partners as “inflexible.
However, recipients of precise offers made more conciliatory counter-offers with smaller adjustments and more favorable final settlements.
Precise offers were associated with more favorable final deals even when the negotiator opened with a less ambitious precise offer.

Martin Schweinsberg

Martin Schweinsberg

Precise offers are less likely to be seen as aggressive by a co-negotiator, according to INSEAD’s Martin Schweinsberg collaborating with Gillian Ku and Madan M. Pillutla of London Business School’s and Cynthia S. Wang of Oklahoma State University.
Ambitious first offers may stall progress toward settlement if a negotiation partner takes offense.

Gillian Ku

Gillian Ku

This risk of stalemated negotiation increases if negotiators see themselves in a lower-power position and receive an extreme offer.
These negotiators may be more willing to end negotiations,

Manoj Thomas

Manoj Thomas

Precise offers can obscure their actual value, noted Cornell’s Manoj Thomas and Vrinda Kadiyali with Daniel H. Simon of Indiana University.
Buyers underestimated the size of precise prices, particularly under uncertain conditions:  U.S. homebuyers paid more when list prices were precise.

Vrinda Kadiyali

Vrinda Kadiyali

Precise offers provide some of the benefits of favorably anchoring negotiation discussions while reducing risks of “offensive” extreme offers.

-*How effective have you found “precise” opening offers in achieving your negotiation goals?

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Do You Accept Bad Deals?

Taya Cohen

Taya Cohen

Agreement bias is the tendency to settle in negotiation, even if that decision results in a disadvantageous outcome in business and interpersonal relationships.

During negotiation, participants may enter a “negative bargaining zone,” when their positions and interests greatly diverge.
Skillful negotiators usually end the discussion if it is unlikely to move beyond the “negative bargaining zone.”

Leigh Thompson

Leigh Thompson

However, negotiators may accept a disadvantageous deal for several reasons, 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 likable,

◦       Erroneous Anchoring: People may assume that their interests and the negotiation partner’s are mutually exclusive.
As a result, they may overlook innovative, “integrative” solutions,

◦       Strength in Numbers: Negotiators who are outnumbered by the other negotiation team tend to agree to suboptimal deals.

Geoffrey J Leonardelli

Geoffrey J Leonardelli

Negotiating teams tend to be less susceptible to agreement bias when discussions enter a negative bargaining zone, found Cohen, Thompson, and Leonardelli.

Solo negotiators demonstrated more agreeable behavior, and were more likely to agree to unfavorable conditions.
However, when solo negotiators were joined by only one person, they avoided unfavorable agreements because they accessed additional decision support.

Douglas Jackson

Douglas Jackson

Agreement bias also 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.

Samuel Messick

Samuel Messick

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.

Robin Pinkley

Robin Pinkley

Likewise, faulty judgments can lead to unfavorable agreements, noted SMU’s Robin L. Pinkley, Terri L. Griffith of Santa Clara University, and University of Illinois’s Gregory B. Northcraft.

Terri Griffith

Terri Griffith

Pinkley’s group demonstrated ineffective outcomes when negotiators:

  • Accurately processed faulty and incomplete information (information availability errors),
  • Inaccurately process valid or complete information (information processing errors).

Gregory Northcraft

Gregory Northcraft

-*How do you guard against agreeing to bad deals?

-*How do reduce the possibility of Information availability errors and information processing errors?

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