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RESPECT AFFIRMATION IN STATUS NEGOTIATIONS
Despite the prevalence of status disagreements, contests, and conflicts, little is known about how to manage such conflict. In this paper, we propose a novel approach to managing conflicts in status negotiations. Using conflict expression theory, we identify the primary psychological reason (the defender’s zero-sum perceptions) and behavioral reaction (the defender opposing the challenger) that may prevent status claims from yielding a gain in status for the challenger. Then, we introduce the tactic of respect affirmation, where the challenger expresses their status claim with lower oppositional intensity by communicating unconditional respect towards the defender. We hypothesize and test if this reduces the defender’s zero-sum perceptions, and therefore, their defensive behaviors. Using a field study and experiments, we demonstrate that respect affirmation ameliorates the risk of backlash from the challengers’ efforts to attain higher status because the defender is less likely to actively oppose the challenger.