Kirk, D., Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2011). Mental contrasting promotes integrative bargaining. International Journal of Conflict Management, 22, 324-341.
Purpose This paper aims to test the impact of several self-regulatory strategies on an integrative bargaining task.
Design/methodology/approach Participants were randomly assigned to dyads and negotiated over the sale of a car. Before negotiating, participants were prompted to engage in one of three self-regulation strategies, based upon fantasy realization theory (FRT): to mentally contrast a successful future agreement with the reality of bargaining, to exclusively elaborate on successful future agreement, or to exclusively elaborate on the reality of bargaining. Those in the control condition merely began the negotiation.
Findings Mentally contrasting a successful future agreement with the reality of bargaining leads dyads to reach the largest and most equitable joint agreements, compared to dyads that elaborate only on successful future agreement, or on the reality of bargaining.
Research limitations/implications Since it was found that mental contrasting promotes integrative agreement, it is important to learn more about the psychological processes that mediate and moderate this effect. Another related line of research would examine the application of the findings to other bargaining scenarios. One further future line of research should combine mental contrasting with planning strategies.
Originality/value The findings of the paper have implications for both self-regulation and negotiation research. The result that mental contrasting fosters integrative solutions reflects its potential to help negotiators effectively discriminate among feasible and unfeasible components of a multi-faceted goal (integrative agreement). For negotiation research, the paper identifies an effective self-regulatory strategy for producing high-quality agreements.