Impact of emotions in negotiations

Seminar Paper, 2017

26 Pages, Grade: 2.0





List of figures

1 Introduction

2 Negotiation and emotion
2.1 Negotiation
2.1.1 Definition of negotiation
2.1.2 Negotiation strategies
2.2 Emotion
2.2.1 Definition of emotion
2.2.2 Types of emotions

3 Impact of emotions in negotiations
3.1 Positive emotions
3.2 Negative emotions
3.3 Neutral emotions

4 Summary and outlook



This seminar paper deals with emotions in negotiations. Both the negotiator and the opponent can use emotions in negotiations in order to influence the result to their own advantage. Emotions can be divided into positive, negative and neutral. Within these three types of emotions, there are different emotions that can occur, whereof not all of them has the same impact on the outcome of the negotiation.

Based on a systematic literature analysis, the emotions that can occur within these three types are presented and illustrated. This seminar gives an overview of the impact of the three typesof emotions in negotiations and is specifically focused on the positive emotions compassion and happiness, as well as the negative emotions anger, anxiety and sadness. The aim of this work is to compare critically and objectively the different effects of the emotions in negotiations.

List of figures

Figure 1: Harvard method (adapted from Nürnberger, 2015, p. 9)

Figure 2: Basic functions of emotions (adapted from Nürnberger, 2015, p. 16)

Figure 3: Types of emotions in negotiations (adapted from Kopelman et al., 2006, p. 1; Nürnberger, 2015, p.18)

Figure 4: Types and the relevant emotions

Figure 5: Impact of positive emotions on the negotiation

Figure 6: Impact of negative emotions on the negotiation

1 Introduction

As discribed from Nürnberger (2015, p.8), negotiating is commonly described as a basic form, of getting something that you desire from someone. It is a reciprocal communication of at least two parties, with the aim of reaching an agreement, provided that the other side has both opposing as well as common interests (Nürnberger 2015, p.8). The main objective of the parties is to reach an agreement after having clarified the conflict of interests (Pfetsch, 2006, p.15).

Carnevale et al. (2012, p.53) suggest that there is growing evidence that emotional displays can impact people’s decision-making in negotiations. According to Nürnberger (2015, p.16) emotions are part of a highly complex apparatus that helps us to assess facts and situations. They move us to do or leave something and enable us to react flexibly to new demands of the environment (Nürnberger, 2015, p.16).

Kopelman et al. (2006, p.81) and Nürnberger (2015, p.18) have identified three types of emotion, namely positive, negative and neutral emotions. According to Carnevale et al. (2012, p.64) positive emotions are joy, pride, admiration and gratitude, while Geiger et al. (2013, p.269) names joy, curiosity, compassion and astonishment. Negative emotions are according to Nürnberger (2015, p.26) anger, sadness and fear, whereas Geiger et al. (2013, p.269) characterise negative emotions with the expression of rage, anger, disappointment, sadness and fear. However, neutral emotions can be defined as showing no emotions (Nürnberger et al., 2015, p.18; Bosse et al., 2014, p.119).

These three types of emotions can be used strategically in negotiations to influence the opponents‘ emotions, cognitions, and behaviors (Kopelman et al., 2006, p.98).

Considering that emotions can be used strategically in negotiations, the question arises how these different types of emotions can influence the outcome of the negotiation?

The objective of this seminar paper is to give an overview of the topic „emotions in negotiations“ and to work out the impacts of different emotions on the outcome of the negotiation. For this purpose the work is divided into foursections and subjected to a systematic literature analysis. The first sectionintroduces the objective and aims of this paper. In the second section, the concept of negotiation is defined and the two different types of negotiations are characterized. Furthermore the concept of emotions is explained and divided into 3 categories: positive, negative and neutral. Here the positive emotions compassion and happiness, as well as the negative emotions anger, anxiety and sadness are described explicitly. These emotions were deliberately selected, since the results of the negotiation exit are very different. The inclusion of further emotions would go beyond the scope of this seminar paper. The third section focuses on the effects of the previously named emotions on the outcome of the negotiation. The effects of positive, negative and neutral emotions on the outcome of the negotiations are first presented in general, and the emotions that are to be presented are then addressed specifically. The seminar paper concludes with a summary and an outlook on the further development of the topic.

Methodological approach

A literature review was carried out for this seminar paper.As well as using Google Scholar, EBSCOHost, SpringerLink and EconBiz this paper also uses books and journals. The relevant period of this work is limited to publications between 1997 and 2016, since they contain the latest insights of this topic.

2 Negotiation and emotion

This section deals with the most important terms related to negotiations and emotions.

2.1 Negotiation

The Definition of negotiation and the negotiations strategies are the content of this section.

2.1.1 Definition of negotiation

‚A negotiation is an interaction between at least two parties trying to reach an mutual agreement on the compensation of opposing interests, within the framework of a joint decision making through the exchange of offers and information, from which they expect to achieve a higher benefit to their respective alternatives‘ (Geiger et al., 2015, p.226).

According to Geiger et al. (2015, p.27) and Pfetsch (2006, p.15), the origin of the word negotiation comes from the latin language. „Negotium“ means a business, because a negotiator was originally a banker or wholesale trader (Pfetsch, 2006, p.15). Nowadays the original meaning of negotiation is not just focused on the activity of banker and wholesale trader. Duckek (2010, p.11) and Vetschera (2013, p.135) are the opinion that negotiations are omnipresent and can occur in everydaylife like business, public as well as private lives.

2.1.2 Negotiation strategies

Negotiations can be classified according to specific characteristics like the type and number of involved parties, negotiation points, number of negotiation rounds and the direction of the negotiation (Duckek, 2010, p.11).For this paper especially the direction of the negotiation is interesting.

The direction of a negotiation can be described as a negotiation situation (Geiger et al., 2013, p.233). Burgoon et al. (2012, p.137), Nürnberger (2015, p.9) and Vetschera (2013, p.148) designate the direction of a negotiation as a negotiation strategy. For this paper we use the designation negotiation strategy.

In the opinion of Duckek (2010, p.11), Burgoon et al. (2012, p. 137) and Nürnberger (2015, p.9), the negotiation strategy can be distinguished in a distributive and an integrative strategy. Both strategies rarely occur in pure form, usually negotiating alternately pass through integrative and distributive phases (Duckek, 2010, p.17). In the following the 2 strategy types will be described:

Distributive negotiation strategy

Nürnberger (2015, p.9) describes the distributive negotiation strategy as a „Win-Lose“-strategy respectively „fixed-pie“-assumption, while Burgoon et al. (2012, p.137) denotethis strategy as a „the winner-take-all outcomes“.The aim of a distributive negotiation strategy is to claim value and maximize „the share of the negotiator in what is essentially perceived as a pie of fixed size“ (Vetschera, 2013, p.148). According to Nürnberger (2015, p.9) the basis of a distributive strategy is a limited amount of objects which can be split to all negotiation participants. The negotiation area is limited in that the negotiation items are fixed and therefore the overall benefit can not be increased (Nürnberger, 2015, p.9). The distributive negotiation strategy can be very contentious, because the profit of one’s party will always be the disadvantage of the profit of the other party (Duckek, 2010, p.17).

Integrative negotiation strategy

According to Nürnberger (2015, p.9-10) the integrative negotiation strategy is a „Win-Win“-strategy respectively a „two-winner-solution“. Burgoon et al. (2012, p.137) describe this strategy as a „win-win-outcome“. „Creating value“ is according to Vetschera (2013, p.148) the aim of an integrative negotiation strategy. Commonly this strategy subject to trust and a reliable relationship between the negotiators (Nürnberger, 2015, p.9).Integrative negotiation strategies are characterized by the fact that the quantity of resources to be distributed is unclear in advance and develops only during the course of the negotiation (Duckek, 2010, p.17). In order for a negotiation to be integrative, Duckek (2010, p.17) notes, that a number of conditions must be fulfilled: There must always be more than one negotiating point, the negotiation agreement must be expandable and the negotiation parties‘ preference distributions must differ.In agreement with Duckek (2010, p.17) the shared profit can often be considerably increased by cleverly distributing and expanding the resources to be negotiated. If both parties are willing to act cooperatively, to focus on their commonalities and not their differences, to exchange information and ideas and thus to generate alternative solutions, they can exploit the integrative potential of the negotiation, that means to generate value and both benefit (Duckek, 2010, p.17-18).

The Harvard method is according to Nürnberger (2015, p.9) a comprehensive and widely recognized integrative negotiation strategy. The Harvard method contains four essential aspects which will be illustrated in figure 1:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure1: Harvard method: (adapted from Nürnberger, 2015, p 9)

These fourkey aspects of the Harvard method can be seen as recommendations for successful negotiating (Nürnberger, 2015, p.9).

2.2 Emotion

This section defines emotions and describes the different types of emotions.

2.2.1 Definition of emotion

According to Esser (2005, p.4) and Nürnberger (2015, p.16), there is no universal definition of the term emotion.

Esser (2005, p.4) is the opinion that emotions are states of inner excitation, which are connected with the fulfillment of biological and social basic needs, as an immediate and uncontrollable internal reaction to certain perceived stimuli in the inner condition or the external environment of an organism. According to Nürnberger (2015, p.16) emotions are part of a highly complex system that helps us to assess facts and situations. They move us to do or leave something and enable us to react flexibly to new demands of the environment (Nürnberger, 2015, p.16). Geiger et al. (2015, p.269) describe emotions as short-term, intuitiv reactions caused by a certain event or reference object, which can be relatively severe but does not last long.

The ‚word emotion dates back to 1759, when it was adapted from the french word émouvoir, which means „to stir up“‘ (Ploumaki, 2013, p.10). Jaakkola et al. (2014, p.540) characterize emotions as a short-lived phenomena in terms of their frequency, intensity, and duration. The main functions of emotions can be seen in figure 2:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: Basic functions of emotions: (adapted from Nürnberger, 2015, p.16)

Nürnberger (2015, p.16) explains the first point of the core functions of emotions as a help in situations of existential threats, because emotions trigger in fractions of seconds actions such as dodging, escape or freezing. The second point is according to Nürnberger (2015, p.16) a help in planning and decision-making because forward-looking thinking and acting are closely linked to emotions. A means of communication, which is the third point in figure 2, is the communication of facial expressions and posture (Nürnberger, 2015, p.16).

For this seminar paper point two and three are interesting.

2.2.2 Types of emotions

Within the emotions consideration, the opinions differ on the number and description of the types. Kopelman et al. (2006, p.81) and Nürnberger (2015, p.18) distinguish three kinds of emotions in negotiations: positive, negative and neutral emotions, whereby Nürnberger denotes the neutral emotions as pokerface emotions. According to Vetschera (2013, p.142) emotions in negotiations can be classified as „collaborative, aggressive or neutral“, while Jaakkola et al. (2014, p.548) name 5 types of emotions: positive, neutral, dejection-related, agitation-related, other negative emotions. For this paper are three types of emotions from 0Kopelman et al. and Nürnberger relevant, which are illustrated in figure 3:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 3: Types of emotions in negotiations: (adapted from Kopelman et al., 2006, p.81; Nürnberger, 2015, p.18)

In the following the three types are defined, explained and the relevant emotions for these types are assigned.

Positive emotions

Positive emotions are according to Kopelman et al. (2006, p.82) „vague and underspecified“, i.e. ‚they are more likely to occur when people feel safe and satiated and facilitate approach behavior, exploration, and activity engagement.In accordance with the opinion of Jaakkola et al. (2014, p.540) positive emotions arise, when it’s possible for the negotiator to attain his goals and the procedure has been continuous. Filzmoser et al. (2016, p.1176) means, that positive emotions relate to flexibility.A friendly tone, often smiling, nodding the head in agreement and to be cordial and invinting are according to Kopelman et al. (2006, p.91) positive emotions that can be shown from the negotiator. According to Adair/Semnani-Azad (2014, p.69) positive emotions can be communicated through vocal warmth, vocal pleasantness, and relaxed laughter.

Jaakkola et al. (2014, p.548) name calm, driven, friendly, happy, quiet, relaxed and satisfied as positive emotions, whereas Carnevale et al. (2012, p.64) list joy, pride, admiration and gratitude. Positive emotions can also be joy, curiosity, compassion or astonishment (Geiger et al., 2013, p.269). Bosse et al. (2014, p.119) used joy, happy-for and admiration to describe positive emotions.

For this seminar paper compassion and happinessare relevant, which will be defined in the following.


The involvement of empathy and „understanding regarding the other’s intentions and motives for a past behaviour in that even though the primary appraisal is negative“, is according to description of Liu/Wang (2010, p.445) compassion. Compassion can commonly used interchangeable with empathy (Liu/Wang, 2010, p.445; Oetzel et al. 2014, p.376). Liu/Wang (2010, p.445) extend the use of compassion with sympathy and pity. Compassionate feelings can result from the impression „that the other person is not responsible because of extenuating circumstances“ (Liu/Wang, 2010, p.445).


A state of pleasure, security and generosity, which is manifested in outgoingness and approach-related behaviors can be associated with happiness, whereas it can also been associated with a motive toward affiliation and social bonding (van Kleef, 2014, p.3). Carnevale (2007, p.60) and Govan et al. (2010, p.127) notes that happiness denotes satisfaction.Happiness can arise,according to van Kleef (2014, p.3)‚ „when goals have been met or good process is being made toward attaining them and expectations are positive.“

Negative emotions

In accordance with the opinion of Kopelman et al. (2006, p.82) „negative emotions represent specific action tendencies that narrow in on a specific subset of behavioral options and are necessary for survival in life-or-death situations.“In consonance with Cheng et al. (2014, p.747) negative emotions can often be confrontational, while arising during the negotiation.A loud or sharp vocal tone, a fast speaking rate, and a negative affect in tone of voice can be seen as a medium for a negative affect (Adair/Semnami-Azad, 2014, p.69). A negotiator can express negative emotions while speaking antagonistically, appearing intimidating and being insistent (Kopelman et al., 2006, p.91).

Jaakkola et al. (2014, p.541) distinguish „two classes of negative emotions“: dejection-related and agitation-related. To be angry at other, disappointment, dissatisfaction, frustration, hopelessness, irritation, regret, and sadness can be assigned as dejection-related negative emotions, while to be angry on oneself, anxiety, apprehensiveness, ashamedness, fear, pressure, self-blame and tense can be authorzied as agitation-related negative emotions (Jaakkola et al., 2014, p.541). Additionally Jaakkola et al. (2014, p.548) name confusion, indecisiveness, resentfulness, threat, uneasiness and uncertainty as „other negative emotions“. Nürnberger (2015, p.26) and Bosse et al. (2014, p. 103) reference to anger and sadness, whereas Nürnberger add fearas negative emotions. Geiger et al. (2013, p.269) include rage, anger, disappointment, sadness and fear as negative emotions.

Anger, anxiety and sadness are relevant, which will be characterised below.


In accordance with the opinion of Liu/Wang (2010, p.445), anger can provoke „an intention in an individual to remove the barrier or decrease an unwanted response through punishment and retaliation.“ The communication of toughness is according to Kopelman et al. (2006, p.83, p.) and Filzmoser et al. (2016, p.1177) a display of anger. Filzmoser et al. (2016, p.1185) add resoluteness as an association with expressions of anger. The triggering of anger isoften caused by other persons (Brooks/Schweitzer, 2011, p.43). In the opinion of van Kleef (2014, p.3) anger „arises when one’s goals are being frustrated and one blames someone else for it.“


Brooks/Schweitzer (2011, p.44) „define anxiety to include fear, frustration, stress, tension, worry, apprehension, and nervousness.“If the term anxiety is used in the following, it includes sources with the term fear.


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Impact of emotions in negotiations
University of Kaiserslautern
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Robert Neubauer (Author), 2017, Impact of emotions in negotiations, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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