IACM 2022 Abstract Book »
The Impact of Ghost Alternatives: How What Was, Haunts What Is
We expand upon prior research showing the positive effects of best alternatives to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) experienced by negotiators, even when a BATNA is neither certain nor current. Building on prior research demonstrating the effects of possible future alternatives (Phantom BATNAs), we propose the concept of Ghost BATNAs: Past alternatives that no longer exist during the current negotiation. Through two experiments, we show that Ghost Alternatives result in negotiator demands and extracted value comparable with current BATNAs "in hand." We show that these enhanced outcomes stem from Ghosts, for which the negotiator perceives personal responsibility. We further show that, unlike Phantom and current BATNA effects mediated through heightened perceptions of relative power, Ghost BATNA are mediated through experienced regret. This research contributes to our further understanding of BATNAs and expands knowledge of how past, present, and possible future alternatives influence negotiated agreements.