Open to Offers, but Resisting Requests: How the Framing of Anchors Affects Motivation and Negotiated Outcomes

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Abundant research has established that first proposals can anchor negotiations and lead to a first-mover advantage. The current research developed and tested a motivated anchor adjustment hypothesis that integrates the literatures on framing and anchoring and highlights how anchoring in negotiations differs in significant ways from standard decision-making contexts. Our research begins with the premise that first proposals can be framed as either an offer of resources (e.g., I am offering my A for your B) that highlights gains versus a request for resources (e.g., I am requesting your B for my A) that highlights losses to a responder. We propose that this framing would affect the concession aversion of responders and ultimately the negotiated outcomes. We predicted that when a first proposal is framed as an offer, the well-documented anchoring and first-mover advantage effect would emerge because offers do not create high levels of concession aversion. In contrast, because requests highlight what the responder has to give up, we predicted that opening requests would produce concession aversion and eliminate and even reverse the first-mover advantage. Across 5 experiments, the classic first-mover advantage in negotiations was moderated by the framing of proposals because anchor framing affected concession aversion. The studies highlight how motivational forces (i.e., concession aversion) play an important role in producing anchoring effects, which has been predominantly viewed through a purely cognitive lens. Overall, the findings highlight when and how motivational processes play a key role in both judgmental heuristics and mixed-motive decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)582-599
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 09.2020