A new study shows how reciprocal generosity can benefit you.
- Researchers studied what people do when distributing items of unequal value.
- You may be more likely to get the item you want if you let the other person decide.
- Reciprocal generosity can let you "give up your cake and eat it too".
People may be nicer than you think. A new study says that people are generally willing to give up something they want to appear generous.
Let's say you've been circling the mall's parking lot and ended up next to a free space right by the elevator at the same time as another car with someone you know from the PTA. And you both have just as much of a claim to the spot. In the meantime, there's a spot much farther away that opened up as well. What would you do? Chances are, says the new paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, if you offer the person in the other car to choose what they'd like to do, they will give up the better spot to you and think you're generous.
Scientists Michael Kardas, Alex Shaw and Eugene Caruso at the University of Chicago conducted eight studies that showed the complexity of either/or scenarios, when a person has to choose between being worse off materially or having their reputation improve.
By utilizing a group of 300 online volunteers, the researchers looked at how frequently people abdicate decisions when faced with having to distribute items of unequal value – like a higher-end food product vs. something worse in quality – between themselves and a friend.
Almost 70% said they would abdicate the decision, giving the other person the choice in distributing the items. They would do so to seem more generous. In a real-life test of this study, an experiment conducted in a park that involved pairs of local people who knew each other, a similar ratio of 2/3s of the subjects decided to abdicate their decision. Interestingly, if they did that, more often then not, the other person gave up the more valuable item.
An additional online study of 310 people concluded that if people were informed that their friend abdicated the decision, leaving it up to them, they were much more likely to give up the higher-value object in question than to take it themselves.
Researchers see this fact supporting the idea that people view abdication of decision as an act of generosity, which would prompt a reciprocal generosity.
This abdication effect was observed among strangers as well but with a twist. If given the choice to decide what they or a stranger would get, participants were more likely to keep the higher-valued item for themselves. But if told that the stranger abdicated the decision to them, they were again more likely to give up the better option rather than keep it. A real-world test of this involved gift cards of varying amounts and showed the same results as the imaginary situations.
"In sum, abdication seems to be beneficial in more ways than one: abdicators are not only perceived to be generous, but they also tend to receive the larger slice of the pie," wrote the researchers.
They also described their finding as "abdication provides a unique opportunity for people to give up their cake and eat it too." It pays to be nice.
Negotiation looks on the outside to be extremely difficult. But if you're confident enough to have some patience from the outset, it's as simple as telling the other person to "take it or leave it."
If you want to be an expert negotiator — or even a savvy game theorist — you must master one thing. Patience. Kevin Zollman, a professor at Carnegie Mellon and one of the leading game theorists in America today, offers us some insight into how to gain the upper hand when it comes to negotiating. Game theory comes in handy in many facets of life, from buying a car to asking for a raise. Zollman even goes as far to tell us not only how to attain negotiating power but how to sustain it, by simply telling the other other party to "take it or leave it." Kevin Zollman and Paul Raeburn are the authors of The Game Theorist's Guide to Parenting: How the Science of Strategic Thinking Can Help You Deal with the Toughest Negotiators You Know--Your Kids.
Haggling over a number? That's a terrible way for people to negotiate, says Harvard International Negotiation Project head honcho Dan Shapiro.
Negotiation is part of life. Whether we're talking about something as grandiose as healthcare or as personal as buying a car, we often spend the vast majority of the negotiation process haggling over the numbers. This is often a bad way to look at it, says Dan Shapiro. And he should know: he's head of the Harvard International Negotiation Project and knows an awful lot about getting two opposing sides to see eye to eye. So what's the best way to do so? Perhaps talking about why each party wants what they want and negotiating from there. When polarized debates come to a head over "use vs them" mentalities, looking at it from this angle—i.e. the nuts and bolts of a position and less so the end result—can humanize each side to the other. Dan Shapiro's latest book is Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts.
Want to make someone an offer they can't refuse? Understand how our minds are hung up on loss aversion, says former FBI negotiator Chris Voss.
In 2002, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky won the Nobel Prize in Economics for a behavioral theory they created and refined between 1979 and 1992: prospect theory. It explained how people weigh up risks in decision making, and part of its findings revealed that we are inherently loss averse, meaning we give at least twice as much decision-making weight to the idea of losses than gains. Losing $5, explains former FBI negotiator Chris Voss, feels like losing $10, and the prospect of gaining $5 will feel joyless coompared to the fear of losing $5. This can be leveraged in negotiations simply by pointing out what is going to be lost if a deal isn’t made, or something isn’t done. The "crazy mathematics" we do in our heads isn’t rational, but understanding it will give you an upper hand in your next negotiation. Chris Voss's book is Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended On It.
Chris Voss's book is Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended On It.