The Role of Emotions in Effective Negotiations

Bachelor Thesis, 2016

68 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of Contents

Table of Figures


1 Introduction
1.1 Aim and Structure of the paper

2 Introduction to Negotiations
2.1 Conflicts – The Cause of Negotiations
2.2 Definition of Negotiation
2.3 Distributive and Integrative Negotiations
2.4 Types of Negotiators
2.4.1 Hard Bargainers
2.4.2 Soft Bargainers
2.4.3 Principled Bargainers – The Harvard Concept

3 Emotions
3.1 The Challenge of Defining Emotions
3.2 The Origin of Emotions
3.2.1 The Appraisal Theory
3.2.2 Limbic System - The Neuroscience of the Appraisal Theory
3.3 Functions of Emotions
3.3.1 Motivation
3.3.2 Communication
3.3.3 Decision Making

4 Perceiving Emotions
4.1 The Concept of Emotional Intelligence
4.2 Recognition of Emotions Through Non-Verbal Communication
4.2.1 The Six Basic Emotions
4.2.2 Macro Expressions Surprise Fear Happiness and Enjoyment Disgust Sadness Anger
4.2.3 Subtle Expressions
4.2.4 Micro Expressions

5 Understanding Emotions in the Context of a Negotiation
5.1 Deception and Lies
5.1.1 Masking Deceit
5.1.2 The Three Meta-Emotions of a Lie Detection Apprehension Deception Guilt Duping Delight
5.2 Different Personalities Require Different Negotiation Approaches
5.2.1 The Big Five Personality Traits
5.2.2 Machiavellianism
5.2.3 The Influence of Personality on the Negotiation Strategy

6 Strategic Use of Emotions in Negotiations
6.1 The Difference Between Positive and Negative Emotions
6.2 The Classification of Emotional Negotiation Strategies and Tactics
6.2.1 Strategies to Diminish Negative and Stimulate Positive Emotions Emotional Negotiation Preparation Mirroring Showing Tactical Empathy Taking a Break Changing the Players or the Place

7 Conclusion

8 References


Table of Figures

Figure 1: Appraisal Theory (Schmitz-Atzert et al. 2014, p. 136)

Figure 2: Neutral Facial Expression (Eilert 2013, p. 97)

Figure 3: Signs of Surprise (Eilert 2013, p. 69)

Figure 4: Signs of Fear (Eilert 2013, p. 67)

Figure 5: Signs of Happiness – Social vs. Duchenne Smile (Eilert 2013, p. 79)

Figure 6: Signs of Disgust (Eilert 2013, p. 73)

Figure 7: Signs of Sadness (Eilert 2013, p. 77)

Figure 8: Signs of Anger (Eilert 2013, p. 71)

Figure 9: Decision Matrix for the Selection of Negotiation Strategies and Tactics

Figure 10: Classification Model for Emotional Negotiation Strategies and Tactics

Figure 11: The Zygomaticus Major (2014b,

Figure 11: The Orbicularis Oculi (2014a,


Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

1 Introduction

Whether people are bargaining for the price for a flower at the florist around the corner, a teenager negotiating about the time he has to be home at night or the German Bayer AG negotiating a $66bn takeover deal with Monsanto [1] , negotiations happen every day for different reasons.

Even though we are negotiating every day, there is still a misunderstanding about negotiations that often jeopardizes the outcome of the negotiation. Most people think that negotiating is a sequence of rational decision processes but, as a matter of fact, negotiating involves a dimension that is most often underestimated or ignored: emotions. These might be positive emotions like happiness or negative emotions like disappointment and guilt, but what they all have in common is that they significantly impact negotiations.

This lack of awareness about the influence of emotions on negotiations often leads to negotiation strategies that ignore emotions, even though, recognizing and using emotions can significantly improve the negotiation experience and results.

Based on the assumption that emotions do influence negotiations, this thesis focuses on the question, how different emotions influence the negotiation and which skills and knowledge are necessary in order to improve negotiations through emotional intelligence.

1.1 Aim and Structure of the paper

As mentioned, the central task of the bachelor thesis “The Role of Emotions in Effective Negotiations” is to examine the influence of emotions on negotiations and how emotions can be used to increase their overall efficiency.

This bachelor thesis is divided into seven chapters. Following the introduction with the structure and aim of the paper, chapter 2 introduces the most important characteristics and elements of a negotiation, including different types and styles of negotiations.

Chapter 3 focuses on the definition of emotions and provides a theory on the origin of emotions, based on the research of leading emotion psychologists. To underline the importance of emotions in negotiations, the second part of this chapter explains which impact emotions can have on the essential parts of negotiations: motivation, communication and decision making.

The next chapter introduces the concept of emotional intelligence as well as its origins and then focuses on the recognition of emotions through macro, micro and subtle facial expressions. For this purpose, the individual signs for the six basic emotions proposed by Paul Ekman will be introduced. Besides the facial expressions of each emotion, also triggers and differences in intensity of emotions will be identified and explained.

Chapter 5 then focuses on the impact of emotions on the ability to detect deceit and also the influence of different personality traits on negotiation styles that involve emotions. Based on the definition of the Big Five personality traits and the additional trait of Machiavellianism, a model is introduced that classifies personalities according to their proneness for emotional negotiation techniques.

The following chapter deals with the influence of positive and negative emotions on negotiations and introduces different strategies that can be used during negotiations to diminish negative and stimulate positive emotions. The findings of this chapter are summarized in a model that classifies the different strategies according to two dimensions and helps negotiators to choose from the different strategies.

Last of all, chapter 7 summarizes the results and findings about the interdependence between emotions and negotiations.

2 Introduction to Negotiations

To understand the influence of emotions in negotiations, it is necessary to define the term negotiation and understand the basic principles and characteristics of a negotiation. Therefore, the following chapter will focus on the basic characteristics of negotiations, the different types of negotiations as well as the different types of negotiators.

2.1 Conflicts – The Cause of Negotiations

The precondition for every negotiation is the existence of a conflict because there would be no need for a negotiation if all involved individuals had matching interests. Thus, it is important to define the types and levels of a conflict before discussing the three major styles of negotiating.

A conflict can, in general, be defined “as an interactive process manifested in incompatibility, disagreement, or dissonance within or between social entities (i.e., individual, group, organization, etc.) .” [2] After reviewing several definitions for conflict, Robert A. Baron summarized that most definitions overlap with respect to the following elements:

1. Conflicts include opposing interests between individuals or groups.
2. The opposing interests must be recognized by all parties for a conflict to exist.
3. Every conflict involves beliefs by every party, that the other party will thwart, or has already thwarted, its interests.
4. A conflict is a process that develops out of existing relationships and past interactions.
5. Actions by one side result in thwarting of the other’s goals. [3]

Even though this definition includes most elements of a negotiation, Robert A. Baron suggests a further definition that includes the dimension of emotion. Baron defines a conflict „as an ongoing process involving not only opposed interests, but also, in at least some instances, negative feelings and negative thoughts about one’s adversary.“ [4]

2.2 Definition of Negotiation

In order to resolve a conflict without physical violence, negotiations are an indispensable solution. The co-founder of the famous Harvard Negotiation Project, William Ury, defines a negotiation as “the process of back-and-forth communication aimed at reaching agreement with others when some of your interests are shared and some are opposed.” [5] As illustrated before in the introduction, negotiations are not limited to formal business negotiations on a controversial dispute, rather it is also the informal activity that an individual or a group engages in order to acquire something from another party. [6]

A summary of researches on negotiation by Lewicki et al. from 1992 identifies six major characteristics that all negotiations share, whether they are formal or informal.

1. A negotiation involves two or more individuals, groups or organizations.
2. Between the parties a conflict exists that focuses on needs and desires.
3. A negotiation is a voluntary process based on the idea of improving the own position.
4. The fundamental principle of the negotiation is a give-and-take process.
5. The negotiation occurs to find a solution for conflicts where there is no common understanding of how to resolve it.
6. Negotiations always involve tangible (e.g. money or quantity) and intangible factors. [7]

The intangible factors mentioned above are the key element this paper will focus on. They can be defined as a psychological motivation (e.g. emotions) of the negotiating parties. How this psychological motivation can affect the process of negotiating will be illustrated in the following chapters, especially in 2.4 about the three major types of negotiators.

2.3 Distributive and Integrative Negotiations

Before focusing on different types of negotiators, it is necessary to distinguish between the two major types of negotiations first; distributive and integrative negotiations. [8]

Distributive negotiations are often referred to as competitive, win-lose or zero-sum negotiations. In distributive bargaining, the negotiating parties bargain over fixed and limited resources. The interests of both parties are equal, or at least they seem to be, and a conflict is existent where the win of one side results in a loss on the other side. Due to the limited amount of resources and the equality of interests, negotiators only share information when it provides an advantage. Basically, distributive negotiations are a competition where only one side wins. [9]

In contrast, integrative negotiations are more cooperative and focus on finding win-win agreements. The key element of integrative negotiations is a free flow of information that enables the negotiating parties to identify interests. Based on similarities and differences amongst the individual interests, the disputants can identify, develop and select alternatives that satisfy both parties. Due to the exchange of information, integrative negotiations often result in increasing the size of the initial “pie” rather than distributing it. [10]

Negotiations can either be integrative or distributive and in terms of efficiency and fairness, the negotiators who are involved have a major impact on the type of negotiation. How different types of negotiators influence the type of negotiation is therefore illustrated in the following chapters.

2.4 Types of Negotiators

The classic research on negotiation by Fisher, Patton and Ury ,as part of the Harvard Negotiation Project, distinguishes between three major types of negotiation styles. [11] This chapter focuses on the basic definition of the hard, soft and principled negotiation style and introduces how emotions can affect a negotiation.

2.4.1 Hard Bargainers

The first negotiator type is the hard bargainer. In general, people associate the hard bargainer with the stereotype of a person who never gives in on his position and takes the lead in distributive negotiations. He sees every negotiation as a rivalry in which the negotiator who insist on the more extreme claims and has more patience will be in the more powerful position. [12] This unswayable desire to win can result in a mirroring effect where the opposing party is reacting with a similar competitive behavior.

A simple example for the concept of hard bargaining can already be observed amongst children. Imagine the situation of a mother who is doing her grocery shopping for the week with her 4-year-old son. At the end of the initial shopping, the child insists on getting a package of candy which is refused by the mother. Explaining rationally that there is still candy at home and no need for another package, the mother thinks that she can convince the child to not insist on its claims. Nevertheless the child starts to cry and riot at the cash desk in order to get his candy.

A rational approach will not always convince a hard bargainer to step back from his claims. Unless one party gives in, such competitive behavior often results in distributive negotiations where both parties exhaust their resources, harm their interpersonal relationship and yet often fail to find a common agreement. [13]

2.4.2 Soft Bargainers

The opposite to the hard bargainer is the soft bargainer. Soft negotiators are less interested in insisting on their own position rather than avoiding personal conflicts with the opposing party. In order to achieve amiable settlements, the soft bargainer makes concessions and does not insist on his initial position. [14]

Especially when it comes to negotiations between soft and hard bargainers, the negotiation often ends in a distributive win-lose situation. These agreements can trigger emotional responses like anger, fear or disgust towards the other negotiator that can jeopardize or even harm the personal and professional relationship.

Projected on the example of the mother and her child at the grocery store, the mother will probably follow the soft bargaining approach and give in sooner or later in order to find an agreement and prevent serious harm of the relationship.

2.4.3 Principled Bargainers – The Harvard Concept

With the establishment of the Harvard Negotiation Project in 1983, Roger Fisher and William Ury introduced an alternative way of negotiating.

The principled or interest-based negotiation approach is neither a hard nor soft approach. Instead, it is a combination that is hard on the merits but soft on the people. By separating the problem from the people, the principled negotiation focuses on reaching superior agreements and resolving interest-based conflicts without letting emotions jeopardize the relationship. [15] While this sounds like a completely rational process, the principled negotiation strategy does not ignore the impact of emotional behavior. In fact, it emphasizes to follow four simple steps in a negotiation:

1. Separate the people from the problem.
2. Focus on interests, not positions.
3. Invent options for mutual gain.
4. Insist on using objective criteria. [16]

As mentioned before, separating people from the actual core conflict does not imply to ignore human emotions overall. With this step, the Harvard Principle clearly acknowledges emotions not as a threat but as an intangible factor that can influence a negotiation and should be considered.

Negotiators are not dealing with abstract representatives but with human beings who are disposed to emotional reactions that can either be helpful or destructive, depending on the way the negotiator chooses to deal with them. [17] Thus, paying attention to emotions and knowing how to handle them are major skills of all excelling negotiators.

3 Emotions

This chapter focuses on the description of the most important terms and theories regarding emotions and their functions. As of today, there is no universal theory about the nature of emotions which leads to different theories amongst researchers. Therefore, one of the most acknowledged theories is introduced briefly and a widely accepted definition of the term emotion is provided.

3.1 The Challenge of Defining Emotions

We all experience, recognize and show emotions every day but when asked, most people do not have a clear definition for the term emotion. As the psychologists Russel and Fehr noted in their article “Concept of emotion viewed from a prototype perspective”,

“everyone knows what an emotion is, until asked to give a definition. Then, it seems, no one knows.”[18]

Due to the challenge of defining emotions, different experts have developed several theories and definitions throughout the 20th century. A definition that summarizes the most important aspects of emotions in form of a component theory and is widely acknowledged has been developed by the psychologist Klaus R. Scherer.

Scherer states that an emotion is the temporary synchronization between the most important human sub-systems that initiate the five components of an emotion: cognitive appraisal, physiological regulation, motivation, motor expression and monitoring. Together, those five components are the response to the subjective evaluation of an internal or external stimulus that is significant to the needs and wants of the individual. [19]

A missing part in Scherer‘s definition is the distinction between moods and emotions. Even though the two terms are often used interchangeably, they differ in several characteristics. First, moods can last for hours or even days while emotions are limited to a few seconds. Second, emotions are always directed towards a specific object or person while moods do not have a specific source and third, emotions are far more intense than moods. [20]

3.2 The Origin of Emotions

The research on the origin of emotions is diverse and complex. Therefore it is impossible to strive for completeness in describing the theory on emotions. As of today, the research on emotion is constantly evolving but there are a few theories that had and still have significant impact on it. The working theory for this paper will be a neuroscientific and cognitive approach that has been chosen due to its importance and impact in the recent history of emotional research. [21]

3.2.1 The Appraisal Theory

The basic assumption of the appraisal theory, also known as cognition theory, is that an emotion and its intensity depend on how a person appraises a situation (person, object etc.). [22] For example, a lion can trigger different emotions with different intensities, depending on previous experiences and the individual appraisal of the current situation. While a lion in the wilderness might be appraised as a potential danger that leads to fear, a lion in a zoo is not evaluated as a threat.

The most important representatives of the appraisal theory are Richard Lazarus and Magda B. Arnold. Lazarus states that emotions occur because people understand up to a certain level, that the outcome of a conflict or confrontation with another person or stimulus can involve either harm or benefit. In this context, he defines appraisal as the evaluation of a situation through the knowledge that a person has acquired through individual experiences. Therefore, each emotion is the result of a subjective appraisal process that evaluates the specific harm or benefit that has been or will be evoked. [23]

The whole appraisal theory after Lazarus can be illustrated as follows:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Appraisal Theory (Schmitz-Atzert et al. 2014, p. 136)

Once an incident occurs, it is perceived by the person that is directly affected. In a cognitive process, the person evaluates the impact of the situation on his or her current situation with regards to personal goals and motives. This appraisal process then triggers a specific emotion to initiate a response to the incident.

To understand how the process of appraisal works within the human organism, the next part will illustrate the involved neuroscientific processes.

3.2.2 Limbic System - The Neuroscience of the Appraisal Theory

From a neuroscientific view, the essential part of the appraisal process takes place in the limbic system. The limbic system is a collective term for brain structures that are substantial for emotion processing. The most important parts of the limbic system are the amygdala, the hippocampus, the cingulate cortex, the hypothalamus and parts of the neocortex, especially the orbitofrontal cortex. [24]

The central part of the limbic system is the amygdala. Each person has two amygdalae, one on each side of the brain. Research has shown that the amygdala performs a major role in processing emotional reactions, modulating memories and influencing the decision-making. [25]

Every information, external or internal stimulus or retrieved experience from the neocortex is evaluated by the amygdala with regards to the possible influence. [26] The[NL1] evaluation itself is based on previous experiences that had an impact on the person. Depending on the emotion that the amygdala linked to this experience in the past, the evaluation of the current stimulus is significantly influenced by this knowledge.

Based on the appraisal through the amygdala, the hypothalamus releases chemical messengers, e.g. dopamine, and in combination with electrical signals that stimulate the nervous system, we experience a specific emotion that prepares us for a physiological reaction. [27]

In combination with the hippocampus and the neocortex, the amygdala has another important function, the modulation of memories. The amygdala evaluates every stimulus and depending on its importance, the hippocampus links somatic markers to all information (e.g. dopamine or serotonin). This information and the according markers are then stored by the hippocampus in the neocortex and function as the above mentioned knowledge for future evaluations. [28]

From now on, the limbic system is conditioned to this stimulus, person or situation through emotionally marked memories and the limbic system can access the preceding information. Once activated, the somatic markers trigger a diminished version of the emotion that we experienced when the information was stored. The emotional memory is then used to evaluate a situation and make a decision based on previous experiences. [29]

This conditioning of the brain through somatic markers is especially important in social interactions and decision making as the next chapter further illustrates.

3.3 Functions of Emotions

Now that we have established what emotions are and where their origin is, we need to understand their functions. There are many different functions of emotions but the most important ones that are related to negotiations are motivation, communication and decision making.

3.3.1 Motivation

The first important function of emotions is motivation and the resulting behavior. The question is: Why are some people outperforming others in different areas of life?

People might be talented or lucky but Gary Player, a famous golfer, gave the answer: “The harder I practice, the luckier I get.”[30] So people are not better than others because of luck or talent, their performance is based on the motivation of improving their current situation.

Everyone has specific goals they want to reach and in this context, emotions encourage us to act in a way that is leading to this goal. They give us a direction to guide us and the motivation to stay focused in order to achieve our goals. [31]

Once you have experienced anger or frustration due to a lost game or negotiation, it is the human nature to strive for better results in the future. Seeking for positive emotions is not just a behavior to feel better, it is an essential feature of human beings. We need motivation through emotion in order to improve our personal life situation and refrain from negative situations that deteriorate the status of our life situation. [32]

In conclusion, emotions are the key to human motivation. They prevent us from harming ourselves and encourage us to seek for life improvements. Increasing the experience of positive emotions and minimizing the experience with negative emotions are major motives of human motivation. [33]

3.3.2 Communication

Emotions are an essential factor that enables people to function within their social environment. Through expressive characteristics like language, facial expressions and body-language, people communicate their emotions to show how they feel and what they think.

Robert Levenson identified two main functions of emotions in communication. First, expressed emotions allow other people to understand how we feel, and second, they have a direct impact on the other person’s behavior. [34]

For example, a person who expresses fear can cause others to become fearful as well which can lead to mass panics. On the other side, a smile that expresses positive emotions can help others to calm down and defuse dangerous and fearful situations. [35] In terms of a negotiation, showing emotions can help to emphasize whether or not we appreciate our negotiation partner and the proposed offer.

So by expressing our emotions, we help others to understand how we feel and what we think, while the ability of perceiving emotions helps us to do the same and function within our social environment.

3.3.3 Decision Making

Making decisions is a major part of the everyday life. People make decisions in the morning if they should get up or not, they decide whether to walk or drive or where to have dinner. It seems like those decisions are purely rational because people evaluate which option is better for reaching their goals.

This view of a person who is only deciding based on a cost-benefit evaluation is called homo economicus, a theoretical model that is no longer applicable today. [36] Especially the psychologist Antonio Damasio significantly changed the view on the process of how people make their decisions. He demonstrates through his experiments, that emotions play a major role in the process of making decisions by analyzing how people with brain damage of the limbic system make decisions.

When Damasio’s book “Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain” was first published, Damasio and his colleagues had studied 12 patients with a prefrontal brain damage which had an impact on the ability of making decisions and experiencing emotions. [37]

Through various tests with his patients, Damasio was able to proof that emotions have a significant impact on how we make decisions. One of his brain damaged patients once said after a session of presenting several rationally eligible options for action: “And after all this, I still wouldn’t know what to do!” [38]

Due to their brain damage, the patients were no longer able to assign an emotional evaluation to different options like normal people would do. As a consequence, the only differentiation they could make between different options was rational. The challenge with this kind of decision making is perfectly illustrated by the quote above. Even though all options are valid, the missing emotional evaluation prevents the patient from making a final decision because he is not able to differentiate if the action would be harmful or beneficial for his personal goals. [39]

Damasio’s research shows that every decision we make is influenced by emotions. They enable us to make faster and better decisions based on whether or not they are beneficial for our well-being. In consequence, this means that rationality itself always requires emotional input to work properly and therefore emotions need to be considered during negotiations as well.

4 Perceiving Emotions

4.1The Concept of Emotional Intelligence

The concept of emotional intelligence as we know it today is a rather new idea that contradicts the “old” view of intelligence that was defined through the Intelligent Quotient. The term “Emotional Intelligence” is based on the theory of multiple intelligences.

The concept of multiple intelligences was developed by the psychologist Dr. Howard Gardner, professor at the Harvard School of Education, in the late1970’s and early 1980’s. His book “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences” revolutionized the understanding of intelligence as it breaks with the traditional view on intelligence. He suggests that the traditional interpretation of intelligence (IQ) is far too limited and does not reflect the full range of intelligence. Instead, Gardener proposes eight different types of intelligence: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, naturalist, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. [40]

The last two types of intelligences build the foundation of what Gardener calls personal intelligence. He defines the two dimensions of personal intelligence as follows:

“The core capacity [of intrapersonal intelligence] […] is access to one’s own feeling life—one’s range of affects or emotions: the capacity instantly to effect discriminations among these feelings and, eventually, to label them, to enmesh them in symbolic codes, to draw upon them as a means of understanding and guiding one’s behavior. […] At its most advanced level, intrapersonal knowledge allows one to detect and to symbolize complex and highly differentiated sets of feelings.”

“The core capacity [of interpersonal intelligence] […] is the ability to notice and make distinctions among other individuals and, in particular, among their moods, temperaments, motivations, and intentions. […] In an advanced form, interpersonal knowledge permits a skilled adult to read the intentions and desires—even when these have been hidden—of many other individuals and, potentially, to act upon this knowledge—for example, by influencing a group of disparate individuals to behave along desired lines.” [41]

Based on the theory of personal intelligence, Salovey and Mayer “define emotional intelligence as the ability to perceive and express emotion, assimilate emotion in thought, understand and reason with emotion, and regulate emotion in self and others.“ [42]

The term Emotional Intelligence itself popularized through the publication of Daniel Goleman’s book “Emotional Intelligence”, in 1995. Based on Salovey's and Mayer's definition of emotional intelligence, Goleman further distinguishes between five core areas of emotional intelligence:

1. Self-awareness: The ability to recognize and understand emotions when they occur is the foundation of emotional intelligence. Monitoring and recognizing personal emotions enables us to stay in charge and maintain a clear view on decisions and emotional responses.
2. Self-regulation: Based on the self-awareness, the control over personal emotions ensures that we can regulate our emotions in order to diminish negative and maximize positive emotions.
3. Motivation: Using emotions to motivate ourselves, increase creativity and maintain a focus on important tasks to be more efficient and productive.
4. Empathy: The ability of understanding another person’s emotions. In the context of emotional intelligence, empathy can be defined as the key to interpersonal relations.
5. Social Skills: Interpersonal relationships require the skill of identifying emotions of others and handling them in a way to establish rapport and build personal relationships. [43]

These five core areas of emotional intelligence summarize the basic skills that emotional intelligent people share. Gardener, Salovey, Mayer and Goleman significantly changed the view of how intelligence is defined and demonstrated that overall intelligence consists of more than just mathematical or logical intelligence.

4.2 Recognition of Emotions Through Non-Verbal Communication

As shown before, emotions are an important factor for interactions between people. They help us to communicate, make decisions and motivate ourselves. Especially in terms of communication, we have different ways to express emotions. No one has to say if he is sad or happy because we all have the innate ability to perceive emotions in others.

Nevertheless, perceiving emotions remains to be difficult for most people due to the fact that most people do not pay enough attention to the signs of emotions. In order to raise the awareness for the individual signs of different emotions, the following chapter will focus on the expressive signs of the basic emotions and the differences between macro, micro and subtle expressions.

4.2.1 The Six Basic Emotions

In 1872, Charles Darwin published his book “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals”. Darwin stated that emotions are not culturally learned but innate, which lead him to the conclusion that some emotional facial expressions had to be universal and part of the evolutionary inheritance. [44]

This idea of emotional facial expressions being universal and developed through evolution was not shared amongst the majority of leading anthropologists of the 20th century.[45] Against the prevalent opinion, Silvan Tomkins published two books about emotions focusing on the same theory as Darwin but due to a lack of evidence, he could not back up his claims. Around this time, in the 1960s, Paul Ekman started his research on facial expressions as part of the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense. In the beginning he wanted to proof Darwin and Tomkins wrong but his research lead him to the same conclusion: Some emotions were developed through the natural process of evolution and therefore, different characteristics of emotion expression had to be universal. [46]

In his research, Paul Ekman discovered that the human face is able to show more than ten thousand different expressions but that there are six basic emotions of which the facial expressions are universal and can be recognized by people all over the world, while the expression of other emotions can differ across cultures. [47] The basic emotions Ekman identified are anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise. [48] Important to note is that Ekman does not claim that these are the only (universal) emotions but the ones that have scientifically proven universal appearances. For example, trust, shame, satisfaction, embarrassment, interest, excitement, envy, love, etc. are also emotions but do not share all characteristic of a universal appearance. [49]

4.2.2 Macro Expressions

Even though we have the innate ability to differentiate between the six basic emotions (and others), we often fail to recognize them because we do not pay enough attention to the signs.

The facial movements that normally express an emotion are called macro expressions. Macro expressions last between 0.5s to 4s [50] and usually appear when someone does not try to suppress or hide his emotions. Other than micro expressions, macro expressions are controlled by the pyramidal tracts that originate in the motor cortex and are responsible for voluntary movements. [51]

Macro expressions of emotions are expressed in three areas of the face. Every emotion has specific and individual signs in all three areas but the importance of the areas can vary across emotions. The parts of the face that are interesting for facial expressions are divided in the upper face with the brows and the forehead, the eyes with the eyelids and the lower face, including the cheeks, mouth, chin and lips.[52]

Although we can recognize these facial movements, false interpretation and missing knowledge can still mislead us. Thus, the following chapters will identify the major signs of the six basic emotions and clarify common mistakes in interpreting these signs. Therefore, the individual signs will be explained and illustrated with the aid of pictures of the full facial expression. For the purpose of highlighting the individual signs of each emotion, the picture that is provided below can be used for comparison as it shows a neutral facial expression.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: Neutral Facial Expression (Eilert 2013, p. 97)

Before discussing the different individual signs of emotions, it is necessary to note that emotions do not always appear in a pure form and can blend with each other. These simultaneously occurring emotions are called “Blended Emotions”. [53] They consists of facial expression features of two different emotions, for example a blend of happiness and fear. These blends of emotions are not discussed any further as their characteristics can be derived from the individual features of the two blending emotions and due to the fact that different emotions often occur in sequences rather than in blends. [54] Surprise

The first basic emotion to be discussed in this paper is surprise. Of all basic emotions, surprise is the briefest and only lasts for a few seconds at most. Both, the onset and disappearance of surprise as an emotion are sudden, unless the surprising event is continued by new surprising elements. [55] Otherwise, the duration of surprise is extremely short compared to other emotions. Therefore, the short duration is the most reliable sign for true surprise while a surprise expression that last longer than 1s is most often a faked emotion. [56]

Surprise can be triggered by different events or actions but what they all have in common is their sudden and unexpected appearance. When a surprising event unfolds step by step, it will not be surprising as we can prepare for the event. Therefore, surprise will not appear as an emotion when we expect that the event will happen. [57] Suppose that a salesman from one of your suppliers appears in your office to offer you some of his products. If he offers you known products for a price that is common for this quality on the market, you will not be surprised as you already expected it. Therefore, the offer is not unexpected or surprising for you. But, if the salesman offers you a product with innovative features that no competitor can offer and the price remains the same, it is an unexpected event that will most likely surprise you and increase your interest in further negotiations.

As every emotion that will be discussed in the following chapters, surprise can also appear in different intensities. The variations in intensity range from slight surprise to a startle reaction. [58] While you might be slightly surprised by a grade in an exam that is better than expected, the sound of an explosion will likely cause a startle reaction that is by far more intense than surprise. This difference in intensity is also closely related to the four major types of surprise as the intensity leads to differences in the facial expression. The four major types of surprise are the questioning surprise, the astonished surprise, the dazed surprise and the full surprise. [59]

When experiencing surprise, the eyebrows are raised and curved which causes the skin below the eyebrow to be stretched due to the raised eyebrows. Some people also show horizontal wrinkles across the forehead but this sign is ambiguous as it does not appear on every face. Without other signs across the face, not only the wrinkles but also the eyebrows are an ambiguous sign. Appearing alone for a few seconds, the raised eyebrows can be a sign for doubt or questioning rather than surprise. In contrast, when only a quick brow-raise occurs, it is often used as a conversational punctuator or if it is accompanied with a slight movement of the head, it can be greeting emblem. [60]

The second sign of surprise can be observed in the eyes. In combination with the eyebrows, they are the most important factor in differentiating between the expression of surprise and fear. [61] During surprise, the eyes are opened wider than usual, uncovering the sclera above the iris. [62] Similar to the eyebrows, the surprise eyes can occur alone and can also be a signal for interest rather than surprise but when accompanied by the surprise brows and the surprise mouth, the meaning is unambiguous. [63]

When surprise is shown in the lower face, usually the jaw drops open causing the lips and the teeth to be apart but still relaxed and not tense. This jaw dropping is dependent on the intensity of the surprise and the more intense the emotion is, the more likely it is that the mouth is widely open. In combination with the other two signs of surprise in the eyes and eyebrows, this is a clear indicator for surprise, while a sole appearance is more likely to be a sign for speechlessness. [64]

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 3: Signs of Surprise (Eilert 2013, p. 69)

As defined, surprise is the briefest of the six basic emotions. The explanation for the short duration is that once the surprising event is evaluated by the limbic system, we move to another emotion. Surprise itself is a neutral emotion that is neither positive nor negative. [65] Depending on the possible impact that the event can have, it is the following emotion that adds a positive or negative impression to the experience. Distasteful surprise yields disgust while surprise about something positive such as a good grade or a new love will turn into happiness. If provocative actions are surprising us, the surprise will lead to anger and a threat which cannot be diminished, we experience fear as a sequel. Surprise is most often followed by fear because most unexpected events are associated with threat and danger. [66]

Due to the close relation between surprise and fear in facial expression and the other reasons mentioned above, fear will be discussed in the following part to highlight the similarities and differences in the expression of fear and surprise. Fear

The emotion that most often follows surprise is fear. It is one of the most important emotions because it enables us to deal with threats by focusing our attention on the source of harm or danger until we can eliminate it. [67] Our survival depends on the ability to learn how to avoid and escape harmful situations and fear is the alarm reaction that gives us the necessary attention and focus to perceive and escape pain and threat. [68]

The emotional trigger of fear is harm. Humans fear the possibility of harm, which has two dimensions: physical and psychological. Psychological harm may include the loss of job, loss of friendship, disappointment or the fear of public speaking. On the other hand, physical harm that can trigger fear includes for example imminent bodily impact. While some triggers of fear are universal, such as the fear when a sudden loss of gravity occurs, other triggers are learned, such as the fear of dangerous animals. [69] Depending on the environment, education and social surroundings, triggers can vary amongst different people, e.g. the fear of insects is much greater in western cultures than it is in eastern countries.

The variations of intensity in fear can reach from anxiety to terror. [70] As mentioned in chapter 3.2.1 about the appraisal theory, events are evaluated according to the impact that they can possibly have on us. Thus, the intensity of fear also depends on the subjective cognitive appraisal of the stimulus. Fear is triggered by threat, which can be further differentiated into immediate and impending threat. Immediate threat usually leads to action that deals with the source of threat by either fighting, fleeing or freezing depending on the preceding appraisal. On the other hand, impending threat leads to increased attention and muscular tension that prepares us to react.[71] During the appraisal of the situation that determines the intensity of fear, the limbic system evaluates the chances of coping with the harm, avoiding it, reducing it or surviving it before it considers the three possible reactions: fight, flight or freeze. [72]

During the experience of fear, the eyebrows are drawn together so that the inner corners of the eyebrows appear to be closer than they are in the surprise brow. In addition, the eyebrows are raised and appear much more straightened than they do in surprise. The fear brow is usually, depending on the normal individual facial features, accompanied by horizontal wrinkles across the forehead. In contrast to surprise, these wrinkles do not appear across the entire forehead. If the fear brow appears without any other signs of fear in the eyes or the mouth, it conveys the message of worry, slight apprehension or restrained fear. [73]

Another sign of fear appears in the eyes and in contrast to the other signs of fear in the face, the fear eyes are almost always an unambiguous sign of fear. [74] Similar to the surprise eyes, the fear eyes show a raised upper eyelid which causes the sclera above the iris to be exposed. The difference between surprise and fear in the eyes can be observed in the lower eyelid. While in surprise the lower eyelid is relaxed, it is slightly raised and tensed in fear which may be sufficient to cover parts of the lower iris. As mentioned before, the fear eyes are an unambiguous sign of fear and can appear as a micro expression (see chapter 4.2.4), showing signs of slight or controlled fear through short flashing of the expression. [75]

The last sign of fear can be observed in the lower face. In fear, the mouth starts to open and the corners of the lips are drawn back tightly which causes the lips to tense. Standing alone, the fear mouth can have the same meaning as the fear eyes when they appear as a micro expression.[76]

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 4 : Signs of Fear (Eilert 2013, p. 67)

The previous two emotions, surprise and fear, are closely related in terms of facial expressions. Thus, it is by far more difficult to perceive them as they share some features and only have minor differences. To reliably detect and distinguish between surprise and fear, a lot more attention is required in order to recognize them correctly. Happiness and Enjoyment

Happiness is the only emotion, out of the six basic emotions, that is considered a positive emotion. While surprise is neither positive nor negative, all other emotions discussed in this paper are considered to be negative. First of all, we need to distinguish between the four types of happiness; pleasure, excitement, relief and introspectional happiness. Pleasure refers to positive physical sensation such as sexual intercourse, while excitement refers to the psychological sensation of being interested in something that draws your attention and arouses interest. [77] Besides excitement and pleasure, also relief can cause happiness, e.g. when a negative emotion such as fear subsides, we are relieved and often experience happiness as a result.[78] The last type of happiness occurs when something happens that changes the way we see ourselves in a positive manner. [79] For example, if someone is awarded for his research with the Nobel Prize, this person might feel happy about being admired by others.

All four experiences can be defined as triggers for happiness. When you think of situations that caused you to experience happiness, you will probably recognize that happiness often involves more than one of the happiness triggers described above. For example, you might experience excitement while attending a soccer match, pleasure from the physical exertion, self-concept happiness because you’re playing well and finally relief because you supported your team and did not let them down. [80] So most of the times, happiness involves more than one trigger and the different types of happiness often blend with each other.

Just like the other basic emotions, happiness does not only vary in the different types, but also in its intensity. It can reach from a mildly happy experience to joy or ecstasy. Furthermore it can be silent or audible, accompanied by a smile, laughter or even tears in its most extreme form. Nevertheless, extreme forms of happiness do not always include laughter or tears as they can be silent as well, only expressed by a subtle smile. [81]

In terms of facial expressions, happiness shares some characteristics with disgust as the appearance of both emotions is primarily visible in the lower face and the lower eyelids. [82] The universal sign for happiness or enjoyable emotions is the smile. We are able to use smiles for different occasions but the most important differentiation has to be made between a real and a false smile. The subtle difference between enjoyment and non-enjoyment smiles is often missed as there is only a slight difference in appearance. [83] The first person to discover the difference was the French neurologist Duchenne de Boulogne in 1862, who found that “The emotion of frank joy is expressed on the face by the combined contraction of the zygomaticus major muscle and the orbicularis oculi.” [84] The zygomaticus major muscle[85] is involved in true as well as in false expressions of happiness or enjoyment through a smile, whereas the orbicularis oculi is only involved in the expression of frank joy because it is nearly impossible to voluntarily contract this muscle. In honor of Duchenne de Boulogne, Paul Ekman later referred to this true expression as the Duchenne smile. [86]

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 5: Signs of Happiness – Social vs. Duchenne Smile (Eilert 2013, p. 79)

In a Duchenne smile, the corners of the lips are slightly raised while drawn back. Depending on the intensity and control over the emotion, this may result in a smile, where the lips stay together, a grin, with the lips parted or even an opened mouth with parted lips and teeth in an intense grin. [87] Furthermore, a rising of the cheeks causes the naso-labial folds to become more apparent. Through the raised cheeks, the lower eyelid is pushed up and horizontal lines appear below the eye as well as “crow’s-feet” at the outer corners of the eyes. [88] Disgust

Other than fear, disgust is not concerned with the possible impact, such as harm, of an object, situation or other stimulus. Rather it is focused on the appearance of something and the related aversion. When we are disgusted by something, we are responding with avoidance. Even though the stimulus could be harmless, we don’t want to get closer to the source of disgust and try to eliminate it. [89]

While the expression of disgust is universal through different cultures, the triggers of disgust are not. What might be repulsive for people in Germany might be attractive for people in China. The triggers of disgust can be distinguished into different categories but the individual source of disgust might be different from one person to another, as they are learned and not innate.

Disgust is most often triggered by tastes, smells, sights, sounds or touches but even actions, ideas or appearances of people can bring forth disgust. [90] Good examples for different triggers of disgust are table manners. While eating with your hand is a normal behavior in eastern cultures, such as India, western cultures might find it disgusting to eat without cutlery. On the other side, people from India might be disgusted when someone would eat with his left hand, as it is used for unsavory functions such as cleaning your feet.

The previously discussed emotions show signs in at least two facial areas but disgust is primarily visible in the lower face. In disgust, the lower lip is raised and depending on the intensity of disgust and the resulting raise of the upper lip, wrinkles along the sides of the nose appear, better known as nasolabial folds. The lower lip can either be lowered and protruding or raised towards the upper lip. Furthermore, the cheeks are raised and cause the lower eyelid to be pushed up but not tensed. This is especially important as a tensed eyelid would be a sign for anger. [91]


[1] BBC News Online 2016

[2] Rahim 2001, p. 18

[3] Baron 2013, pp. 198–199

[4] ibid., p. 199

[5] Ury 2007, p. 4

[6] ibid.

[7] Lewicki et al. 2015, pp. 7–9

[8] Walton and MacKersie 1991, 1 ff.

[9] Lewicki et al. 2015, pp. 35–37

[10] ibid., pp. 77–78

[11] Fisher and Ury 2011, p. 26

[12] ibid.

[13] ibid.

[14] ibid.

[15] ibid.

[16] ibid., p. 17

[17] ibid., p. 21

[18] Fehr and Russell 1984, p. 464

[19] Scherer et al. 1990a, p. 6

[20] Zimbardo et al. 2008, p. 454

[21] Schiewer 2014, p. 29

[22] Brandstätter et al. 2009, p. 435

[23] Richard Lazarus 1994, p. 366

[24] Häusel 2014b, p. 50

[25] Roth 2009, 276 ff.

[26] Häusel 2014b, p. 51

[27] ibid., p. 52

[28] ibid., p. 54

[29] ibid.

[30] Gary Player n.d.

[31] Zimbardo et al. 2008, pp. 463–464

[32] Scherer et al. 1990b, pp. 42–45

[33] Ekman 2007, xxi

[34] Levenson 1994, pp. 124–125

[35] Ekman 1994, pp. 124–125

[36] Häusel 2014a, p. 116

[37] Damasio 1995, 53 f.

[38] ibid., p. 49

[39] ibid., pp. 34–83

[40] Gardner 2011, pp. 1–412

[41] ibid., p. 253

[42] Sternberg 2000, p. 396

[43] Salovey and Mayer 1990, 191 ff.

[44] Zimbardo et al. 2008, p. 456

[45] Ekman 2007, p. 3

[46] ibid., pp. 1–3

[47] ibid., p. 14

[48] Paul Ekman 1970, p. 156

[49] Schmitz-Atzert et al. 2014, p. 33

[50] Scherer and Ekman 2014, 332

[51] Eilert 2013, p. 53

[52] Ekman and Friesen 2003, pp. 28–29

[53] Eilert 2013, p. 131

[54] Ekman 2007, p. 69

[55] Ekman and Friesen 2003, p. 34

[56] Eilert 2013, p. 86

[57] Ekman 2007, p. 149

[58] Ekman and Friesen 2003, pp. 36–37

[59] ibid., p. 43

[60] ibid., pp. 37–39

[61] Ekman 2007, p. 167

[62] The colored circular structure in the eye that controls the size and diameter of the pupil is called iris. The iris is surrounded by a white outer layer, the sclera.

[63] Ekman and Friesen 2003, p. 40

[64] ibid., pp. 40–42

[65] Eilert 2013, p. 86

[66] Ekman and Friesen 2003, pp. 35–36

[67] Ekman 2007, 155 ff.

[68] Ekman and Friesen 2003, pp. 47–48

[69] Ekman 2007, pp. 152–157

[70] Ekman and Friesen 2003, p. 49

[71] Rhudy and Meagher 2000, 65 ff.

[72] Ekman and Friesen 2003, p. 49

[73] ibid., pp. 50–52

[74] Ekman 2007, p. 65

[75] Ekman and Friesen 2003, pp. 52–53

[76] ibid., pp. 53–55

[77] ibid., pp. 99–100

[78] Ekman 2007, pp. 193–194

[79] Ekman and Friesen 2003, pp. 100–101

[80] ibid., p. 101

[81] ibid.

[82] ibid., p. 103

[83] ibid.

[84] Duchenne and Cuthbertson 2006, p. 72

[85] See appendix A1 and A2 for further descriptions of the zygomaticus major and the orbicularis oculi

[86] Ekman 2007, pp. 204–207

[87] Ekman and Friesen 2003, p. 103

[88] ibid.

[89] McGinn 2011, pp. 6–7

[90] Ekman and Friesen 2003, pp. 66–67

[91] ibid., pp. 68–71

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The Role of Emotions in Effective Negotiations
University of Applied Sciences Aschaffenburg
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Negotiation, Verhandlung, Sales, Verkauf, Emotion, Facial Expression, Micro Expression, Emotionen, Körpersprache, Kommunikation, Psychologie, Paul Ekman, Lügen, Lies, Verhandlungstechniken, Appraisal Theory, Limbic System, Empathy, Empathie, Social Skills, Soft Skills, Emotional Intelligence, Selling, Personality, Machiavellianism, Mirroring, Harvard Concept
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Niklas Lochner (Author), 2016, The Role of Emotions in Effective Negotiations, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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