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Negotiators Deceive Much Less Than We Think: A Theory of Distrust In Negotiation
Negotiators face two dilemmas, whether to be honest and whether to trust their counterparts. We propose a theory that describes how they approach these dilemmas and show the consequences. We argue that negotiators adopt different models of motivations for the two dilemmas. When deciding whether to trust, they assume the other is largely motivated by greed. When deciding whether to deceive, negotiators are motivated not only by greed but also by moral-image concerns and anticipated guilt. Four studies (N = 931) provide evidence for this theory. We show that people grossly overestimate how much negotiators would deceive and that this results from overrating the extent to which greed motivates other negotiators’ behavior. Nonetheless, we also show that negotiators are actually largely concerned with moral consequences, thus deceiving much less than expected. This discrepancy is important because it could impede initial trust in negotiation, and consequently lead to inefficient agreements.