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