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The Impact of Emotion on Negotiation Behaviour during a Realistic Training Scenario

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During this training exercise, military trainee teams confront a simulated human rights violation in which they must negotiate with the person in charge an armed police sergeant to protect the lives of the civilians being violently abused and being made to dig what look like their own graves. The experiment explored the impact of emotion on military trainees negotiation behavior and perceptions by varying the emotional intensity of the armed sergeant Sgt to be very angry and aggressive experimental condition or more neutral and yielding baseline condition. Two competing theories suggest that an emotion like anger could influence negotiators in different ways. If social contagion occurs when facing an aggressive Sgt, his anger may transfer to the trainees, and they may behave more aggressively by making more demands and fewer concessions. In contrast, the strategic choice theory predicts that trainees encountering an aggressive Sgt will be motivated to use his anger as information during the negotiation, thereby countering his demands with fewer demands and more concessions. Thus, the social contagion hypothesis predicts that the trainees may show more aggressive behavior toward an aggressive Sgt than toward a neutral Sgt, whereas the strategic choice hypothesis argues that the Sgts anger will promote a more yielding stance. The scenario was videotaped and later content analyzed. Trainees completed a questionnaire exploring their perceptions of emotions, role and responsibility, decision strategies, and the scenarios outcome. The outcome was analyzed in terms of whether the trainees left the civilians in the hands of the police, watched while they were led into a dense forest, or followed them as they were led away. Results showed that the most common outcome was that trainees refused to leave the victims in the hands of the military police and chose to follow the civilians as they were escorted to the police station.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Psychology
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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