Misperceiving Negotiation Counterparts: When Situationally Determined Bargaining Behaviors are Attributed to Personality Traits

By Michael W. MorrisRichard P. LarrickSteven K. Su
1997| Working Paper No. 1444

Several experiments provided evidence that negotiators make systematic errors in personality trait attributions for bargaining behaviors of their counterparts. Although basic negotiation behavior is highly determined by bargaining positions, negotiators primarily interpret their counterpart’s behavior in terms of the counterpart’s personality, such as his or her level of cooperativeness or agreeableness. Data support a model of four processes that contribute to misperceptions: (1) the primacy of situations in determining bargaining behavior, (2) the primacy of personality traits in attributions, (3) the lack of sufficient information about the other’s situation to discount personality attributions, and (4) the potential self-confirming consequences of personality attributions for subsequent interactions. We discuss implicatons for research on social cognition in negotiation, on accuracy in social perception, and on dynamics of belief confirmation.