Revisiting 'The [Social-Cognitive] Nature of Salience': Social-Cognitive Effort Focuses Attention on the 'Next-Most Obvious' Bargaining Compromise -- Equal Shares
37 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2012
Date Written: June 16, 2012
Collaborators often invest unequal resources towards a common good. Without agreement on sharing that good, collaboration might devolve into parallel, possibly competitive, individual efforts. Reaching agreement requires bargaining. Before bargaining, collaborators independently decide how much to demand and how little to accept. These decisions constitute a tacit form of bargaining. When collaborators cannot verify a common construal of fairness, tacit agreement on equal shares offers the next-most obvious (least unfair) compromise between conflicting interests. Across two experiments, we show that reasoning to this conclusion requires more social-cognitive effort than people automatically expend. Participants played a card game with an alleged opponent and shared the resulting prize. Social-cognitive practice prior to tacit bargaining increased egalitarian proposals. Experiment 2 ruled out facilitation through general-cognitive effort or improvements in social-reasoning skills. Instead, we found that cognitive perspective-takers minimize unfairness, while affective perspective-takers seek minimal fairness. We discuss the differing implications of these motivations.
Keywords: bargaining, coordination, social cognition, focal points, fairness
JEL Classification: D74, D8, C7
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation