Adding Versus Subtracting What Might Have Been: The Impact of Counterfactual Activation on Integrative Negotiations
31 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2008
Date Written: 2007
We explored the relationship between counterfactual thinking and the construction of integrative negotiation agreements. Building on past research demonstrating that counterfactual mind-sets promote a structured imagination (Kray, Galinsky, & Wong, 2006), we hypothesized that priming a counterfactual mind-set would impair the construction of novel solutions to conflict at the bargaining table. To test this hypothesis, in Experiment 1 we manipulated counterfactual thinking prior to a dyadic negotiation task. We showed that dyads primed to think counterfactually prior to the negotiation were less likely to create integrative agreements. In Experiment 2 we examined whether this effect was moderated by the additive versus subtractive nature of counterfactual thoughts. By directing participants to generate upward counterfactual thoughts about a previous negotiation that specified what they might versus might not have done to improve their performance, we tested this hypothesis. Dyads that produced subtractive counterfactuals prior to negotiating were less like to create integrative agreements than dyads that produced additive counterfactuals.
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