Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Canada on Strike

Canada goes on strike

It's Canada Appreciation Day in South Park. South Park doesn't appear to appreciate Canada. This is the pretext of Canadian President Abootman's imposed strike. I'm not kidding.

Nevertheless, this is South Park, and somehow this strike gets the attention of all the world leaders. When asked what they want, the reply is simple and abrasive: "more money".

I can tell you now, the negotiation is already lost.

Mr. Abootman is angry. His mood has already robbed him of an optimal negotiation;  as Druckman and Olekalns (2008) demonstrated that calm negotiators perform significantly better than emotional negotiators. Furthermore, Abootman has provided his negotiating partners with both critical and debilitating information: he has no concept of value in this negotiation, illustrated by the vagueness of his request, and he doesn't appear to be aware of his Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA), as his strike was both impulsive and uninformed.

Nevertheless, Abootman's partners calmly explain that Canada does indeed deserve recompense. By employing the persuasive technique of rapport building (Drolet & Morris, 2000), elicited by showing sympathy and agreement to Abootman's cause, they open up the negotiation by showing a willingness to cooperate. In doing this, they expose the Zero Sum Fallacy, which contends that the are no winners in a negotiation. By cooperating, they create an atmosphere of mutual benefit in working towards the same goal and thus implying that both parties can win.

Abootman, however, shuts this lucrative atmosphere down, in storming out when declined his initial 
request. In doing this, Abootman denies the negotiation of a Zone of Proximal Agreement, the zone in which the two parties can agree upon. Abootman's alternative, however, proves costly. The strike continues, and Canada loses millions of dollars from it. Suddenly, Abootman's options are narrowed, and he becomes pressured by the starving Canadians. Time is now a pressure, and it's been empirically shown to negatively impact decision making (Benton et al, 1972). 

"We want more money!". President Abootman is a prime example of a poor negotiator

Eventually, a telephone call arrives from the World Leaders, who are convinced by a schoolboy, Kyle, to offer Canada thousands of gum balls and Bennigan's vouchers. What happens? You've guessed it; Abootman accepts. He has allowed frequency, demonstrated by the ludicrous number of gum balls offered, take precedence over quality (that being none) of the offer (Alba, & Marmorstein, 1987). This is an example of peripheral, heuristic decision making, which entails making decisions based on aesthetic cues such as size, number and appearance (Chaiken, 1987). During negotiation, Abootman should have employed System II thinking (Kahneman, 2011); evaluating the true monetary value of the offer, compared it to possible alternatives, and calculated the cost of the strike to determine whether the offer leaves him better off. Indeed,  two Canadians later point out that the gum balls and vouchers amounted to $3,008, while the strike cost Canada $10.4m! 

As is normal Canadian convention, the President and his are banished by the public on an ice slab 

President Abootman is a prime example of a poor negotiator. He made no attempt to research his own or his partners' values or BATNAs, he did not provide an ideal setting for negotiation, and later accepted an offer that didn't even satisfy the one value he established!

Perhaps Abootman should look to France for successful striking tips in future...

Alba, J. W., & Marmorstein, H. (1987). The effects of frequency knowledge on consumer decision making.    Journal of Consumer Research, 14-25.

Benton, A. A., Kelley, H. H., Liebling, B. (1972). Effects of extremity of offers and concession rate on the      outcomes of bargaining. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 24, 73-83.

Chaiken, S., & Stangor, C. (1987). Attitudes and attitude change. Annual review of Psychology, 38, 575-    630.

Drolet, A. L., & Morris, M. W. (2000). Rapport in conflict resolution: Accounting for how face-to-face           contact fosters mutual cooperation in mixed-motive conflicts. Journal of Experimental Social                     Psychology, 36, 26-50.

Druckman, D., & Olekalns, M. (2008). Emotions in Negotiations, Group Decision and Negotiation. 
17,1-    11.

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. Macmillan.

Laura Cunniffe (Blog 5)

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