We propose that face-to-face contact fosters the development of rapport and thereby helps negotiators coordinate on mutually beneficial settlements in mixed-motive conflicts. Specifically, we investigate whether, in a cooperative climate, negotiators' visual access to each other's nonverbal behavior fosters a dyadic state of rapport that facilitates mutual cooperation. Experiment 1 manipulated whether negotiators stood face-to-face or side-by-side (unable to see each other) in a simulated strike negotiation. Face-to-face dyads were more likely to coordinate on a settlement early in the strike, resulting in higher joint gains. An alternative interpretation in terms of an anticipatory effect of face-to-face contact was not supported. Experiment 2 manipulated whether previously unacquainted negotiators conversed face-to-face or by telephone before separating to play a conflict game with the structure of a Prisoner's Dilemma game. Face-to-face dyads were more likely to coordinate on high joint gain outcomes. The facilitatory effect of face-to-face contact was statistically mediated by a measure of dyadic rapport. Results did not support alternative interpretations based on individual-level positive affect or expectations about opponents. We conclude with a discussion of the role of affective and dyad-level processes in social psychological models of conflict resolution.
Drolet, A., and Michael Morris. "Rapport in conflict resolution: Accounting for how face-to-face contact fosters mutual cooperation in mixed-motive conflicts." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 36, no. 1 (1999): 26-50.
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