Research Archive

Cultural Differences and Cognitive Dynamics: Expanding the Cognitive Perspective on Negotiation

Michael Morris, Michele Gelfand

Publication type: Chapter

Research Archive Topic: Organizations, World Business


Much has been learned in recent decades through studying negotiators' cognitions in order to understand their behavior. By focusing on systematic biases in negotiators' judgments (i.e. discrepancies from rationality), the cognitive approach has explained patterns of negotiator behavior that eluded prior economic approaches. The common theme in cognitive explanations of errors is that negotiators have human limitations in information processing capacity and hence simplify the otherwise overwhelming tasks of judging the numbers and judging the people at the bargaining table. Negotiators simplify these tasks by applying simple cognitive structures—rules or theories—that lead to good answers most of the time, albeit to errors in certain contexts. By exposing the thought processes that lead up to crucial negotiation errors, cognitive research has made a large practical contribution to the ways negotiation is taught in addition to its purely theoretical contribution.
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Morris, Michael, and Michele Gelfand. "Cultural Differences and Cognitive Dynamics: Expanding the Cognitive Perspective on Negotiation." In The Handbook of Negotiation and Culture. Ed. Michele Gelfand and Jeanne Brett. Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2004.

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