- On being peripheral and paying attention: prototypicality and information processing in intergroup conflict
- Journal of Applied Psychology
- Volume | Issue number
- 98 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Intergroup conflicts are ubiquitous—they occur, for instance, between (work)groups, departments, organizations, political parties, or nations. Such conflicts are commonly addressed through negotiations, in which representatives negotiate on behalf of their constituency. Intergroup negotiations are complex, as representatives need to navigate between the interests of their own constituency and the other party. This implies that negotiation success requires careful processing of information about both parties' interests. Here, we examine how representative negotiators' motivation to engage in such thorough information processing is influenced by their position in the group. Whereas prototypical representatives feel secure about their membership, peripheral representatives have a less certain position. We propose that peripheral representatives are therefore more attentive and responsive to information that may be relevant to the negotiation than prototypical representatives, but only when they are accountable to their constituents. Data from 4 experiments showed that peripheral representatives reported higher information-processing motivation (Experiment 1), bought and recalled more information (Experiment 2), exhibited greater sensitivity to emotional expressions of the outgroup representative (Experiment 3), and attained more integrative ("win-win") agreements (Experiment 4) than prototypical representatives, but only when they were accountable. The findings are discussed in relation to theorizing on group dynamics, motivated information processing, emotion, and intergroup conflict, and practical implications are considered.
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