- Egocentrism drives misunderstanding in conflict and negotiation
- Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
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- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
A key barrier to conflict resolution is that parties exaggerate the degree to which the other side's interests oppose their own side's interests. Here we examine egocentrism as a fundamental source of such biased conflict perceptions. We propose that parties rely on their own interests and priorities when estimating those of the other side, and ignore the other side's true interests and priorities. Three experiments involving multi-issue negotiations provide strong evidence of such egocentric misperception. Participants judged their own important issues to be more important to their negotiation opponent, regardless of their opponent's actual interests (Experiment 1). Furthermore, accuracy increased when attention was experimentally focused on the opponent's interests rather than their own (Experiment 2), and perceptions of opponent's interests were more closely related to own interests than to the opponent's actual interests (Experiment 3). In the discussion, we highlight the broader implications of the egocentrism account for other areas of conflict.
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