Naiveté and Cynicism in Negotiations and Other Competitive Contexts

42 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2011 Last revised: 14 Apr 2013

See all articles by Chia-Jung Tsay

Chia-Jung Tsay

Harvard Business School, Negotiation, Organizations and Markets Unit

Lisa L. Shu

Harvard University - Business School (HBS); Harvard University - Department of Psychology; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Max H. Bazerman

Harvard Business School - Negotiations, Organizations and Markets Unit

Date Written: May 4, 2011

Abstract

A wealth of literature documents how the common failure to think about the self-interests of others contributes to suboptimal outcomes. Yet sometimes, an excess of cynicism appears to lead us to over-think the actions of others and make negative attributions about their motivations without sufficient cause. In the process, we may miss opportunities that greater trust might capture. We review the research on when people expect too little and or too much self-interest in the intentions of others, as contrasted with rational behavior. We also discuss the antecedents and consequences of these naïve and cynical errors, as well as some potential strategies to buffer against their effects and achieve better outcomes in competitive contexts.

Suggested Citation

Tsay, Chia-Jung and Shu, Lisa L. and Bazerman, Max H., Naiveté and Cynicism in Negotiations and Other Competitive Contexts (May 4, 2011). Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 11-066, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1740657 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1740657

Chia-Jung Tsay

Harvard Business School, Negotiation, Organizations and Markets Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
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Lisa L. Shu

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Baker Library 444C
Soldiers Field Road
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Harvard University - Department of Psychology ( email )

William James Hall 260
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Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )

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Max H. Bazerman (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Negotiations, Organizations and Markets Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6429 (Phone)
617-496-4191 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.hbs.edu/mbazerman

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