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.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Negotiating with friends



The scene above from the hugely popular 'Friends' series shows a negotiation between Chandler and Rachel. Chandler needs Rachel to release him from his handcuffs, however in doing this, Rachel would get into trouble with her boss. A few negotiation techniques are used in order to reach an outcome that they are both happy with.

One of the first techniques that Chandler uses is flattery in which he compliments Rachel on her outfit. Flattery has been shown to increase preference for resolving conflict through collaboration and reduce preference for resolving conflict through avoidance (Baron et al, 1990). This is because flattery induces positive affect, which enhances prosocial organisational behaviours, therefore making someone more cooperative.
Kim et al. (2003) tested the effect of being given positive vs. negative feedback before, during and after negotiation. They found that flattery increased cooperativeness in negotiating, further supporting its power in negotiating techniques.

Chandler successfully gets Rachel to unlock him from his handcuffs the first time by making her feel guilty about him being stuck there. He claims that he is cold and could be left there for hours, which successfully pulls of Rachel's heart string, and makes her feel responsible. Guilt is a popular persuasive technique often used in advertising. It is most commonly used by charity organisations who, often successfully, get people to donate money by making them feel guilty for not helping others. Butt et al. (2005) found that when negotiators feel guilty, they may want to avoid negotiation or complete the negotiation session as quickly as possible in order to reduce their exposure to the negative event. When a negotiator feels guilty, they are more likely to use compromising behaviour to reach an agreement quickly by taking a middle ground, resulting in at least partially satisfactory outcomes. Chandler only mentions in one sentence that he is cold, and Rachel changes her mind straight away and agrees to release him, showing that his guilt-tripping worked with immediate effect.

These are just a few of the negotiation techniques used in the scene which successfully show the power of subtle persuasive techniques to help you get what you really want!


By Katie Lawton



Baron, R. A., Fortin, S. P., Frei, R. L., Hauver, L. A., & Shack, M. L. (1990). Reducing organizational conflict: The role of socially-induced positive affect. International Journal of Conflict Management, 1, 133-152.

Butt, A. N., Choi, J. N., & Jaeger, A. M. (2005). The effects of self-emotion, counterpart emotion, and counterpart behaviour on negotiator behaviour: a comparison of individual-level and dyad-level dynamics. Journal of Organisational Behaviour, 26, 681-704.


Kim, P. H., Diekmann, K. A., & Tenbrunsel, A. E. (2003). Flattery may get you somewhere: The strategic implications of providing positive vs. negative feedback about ability vs. ethicality in negotiation. Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, 90, 225-243.

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