Kirk, D., Oettingen, G., & Gollwitzer, P. M. (2013). Promoting integrative bargaining: mental contrasting with implementation intentions. International Journal of Conflict Management, 24, 148-165.
Purpose– The present experiment aimed to test the impact of a self-regulatory strategy of goal pursuit – called mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) – 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 MCII, or one or the other of its two component strategies: to contrast mentally achieving success in the integrative bargaining task with the reality standing in the way of this success (MC), to form implementation intentions on how to bargain (i.e. if-then plans) (II), or both to contrast mentally and form implementation intentions (MCII).
Findings– The strategy of mental contrasting with implementation intentions led dyads to reach the largest joint agreements, compared to dyads that only used mental contrasting or if-then plans. Moreover, participants who mentally contrasted formed more cooperative implementation intentions than participants who did not mentally contrast, mediating the effect of condition on joint gain.
Research limitations/implications– The findings suggest that the self-regulatory strategy of mental contrasting with implementation intentions (MCII) leads to higher joint gain, and that this effect is mediated by mental contrasting’s promotion of cooperative planning. More research should be done to understand the specific negotiation behaviors engendered by MCII, as well as its applicability to other negotiation scenarios.
Originality/value– These findings have implications for both self-regulation and negotiation research. The result that MCII fosters integrative solutions reflects its potential to help people form cooperative plans and reach high joint-value agreements in integrative scenarios. For negotiation research, the paper identifies an effective self-regulatory strategy for producing high-quality agreements.