Behaviour Change

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

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Anything for you Harvey…

This video presents a series of clips from the Tv Series ‘Suits’  that displays the incredibly persuasive talent of Harvey Specter. I know what you’re thinking, he is goorrrrrrrgeousss (but let’s try to focus on his negotiation skills which this guy undoubtedly has). Often referred to as “the best closer” in the series, Harvey has an irrefutable knack for getting what he wants (ie: he’s a good negotiator).

The key to Harvey’s success is he's always prepared, he does his research and knows the other’s parties weaknesses, what they value and what they are willing to compromise on. Harvey takes advantage of this knowledge and uses it to get the best possible outcome for himself. Harvey also knows his best alternatives to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) thus ensuring he always gets what he wants and never settles for less. Pinkey et al (1994) found that individuals with BATNA got better outcomes compared to those with either no BATNA or low quality BATNA.

 Harvey’s  personality is also key factor in his success. His ability to recognize when others are emotionally involved as well as keep himself emotionally detached makes him a good negotiator. Lerner et al (2004) found that emotional thinking can impair decision making whereas those who are neutral (like Harvey) make better decision makers.  Thus enabling him to maintain a logical approach to the deal while exploiting the other parties emotions so their decisions are clouded by it.

Harvey’s confidence is also important as he is unafraid to ask for what he wants. Although it seems so inconsequential simply asking 
for it, Harvey increases his chances of getting what he wants. His confidence also enables him to create a sense of authority and makes his reasons for the deal seem fair and reasonable. By providing reasons Harvey also makes it more likely for the other party to comply. For example, Langer et al (1978) found that if we ask someone to do us a favour, they are more likely to do it, if we give a reason (i.e merely the presence of the word ‘because’ increases the likelihood of compliance). Though Harvey’s reasons may lack logic, he exploits the rule that frequency trumps quality thus by providing the other party with various shallow reasons - they are tricked into believing that they have got the better deal, as  Harvey has made more compromises although in reality these compromises are insignificant in comparison to the what Harvey gets in return. 

I could go on about the tactics Harvey uses that make him so successful but it would be endless. In a nutshell: If you want to be a good negotiator, do your research, know your BATNA and don’t let your decisions be clouded by your emotions. Be smart, cool and collected just like Harvey ;)


Langer,E., Blank, A., & Chanowitz, B. (1978). The mindlessness of ostensibly thoughtful action: The role of ‘placebic’ information in interpersonal interaction, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 635-642.
Lerner, J.S., Small, D.A., & Loewenstein, G. (2004) Heart strings and purse strings carryover effects of emotions on economic decisions, Psychological Science, 39, 1683-1692.

Pinkley, R. L., Neale, M.A., & Bennett, R. J. (1994). The impact of alternatives to settlement in dyadic negotiation, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 57, 97-116.

Blog 5- Tashya De Silva


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