Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 94, Issue 4, pp 569–579 | Cite as

Moral Emotions and Unethical Bargaining: The Differential Effects of Empathy and Perspective Taking in Deterring Deceitful Negotiation

  • Taya R. CohenEmail author


Two correlational studies tested whether personality differences in empathy and perspective taking differentially relate to disapproval of unethical negotiation strategies, such as lies and bribes. Across both studies, empathy, but not perspective taking, discouraged attacking opponents’ networks, misrepresentation, inappropriate information gathering, and feigning emotions to manipulate opponents. These results suggest that unethical bargaining is more likely to be deterred by empathy than by perspective taking. Study 2 also tested whether individual differences in guilt proneness and shame proneness inhibited the endorsement of unethical bargaining tactics. Guilt proneness predicted disapproval of false promises and misrepresentation. Empathy did not predict disapproval of false promises when guilt proneness was included in the analysis. The comparatively private nature of the sin of false promises suggests that private ethical breaches are more likely to be deterred by anticipated guilt, while ethical breaches with clear interpersonal consequences are more likely to be deterred by empathy.


negotiation bargaining unethical behavior empathy perspective taking guilt shame SINS II scale 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



Special thanks to Abigail Panter for helping to collect data for Study 1 and Louisa Egan for helping to collect data for Study 2. Special thanks also to the Dispute Resolution Research Center (DRRC) at Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University for generously funding this research.


  1. Barry, B. (1999). The tactical use of emotion in negotiation In R. J. Bies, R. J. Lewicki and B. H. Sheppard (Eds.), Research on negotiation in organizations (pp. 93-121). Stamford, CT: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  2. Batson, C. D., and Ahmad, N. (2001). Empathy-induced altruism in a prisoner’s dilemma II: What if the target of empathy has defected? European Journal of Social Psychology, 31, 25-36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Batson, C. D., and Ahmad, N. Y. (2009). Using empathy to improve intergroup attitudes and relations. Social Issues and Policy Review, 3, 141-177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Batson, C. D., Lishner, D. A., Carpenter, A., Dulin, L., Harjusola-Webb, S., Stocks, E., et al. (2003). “…As you would have them do unto you”: Does imagining yourself in the other’s place stimulate moral action. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 1190-1201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Batson, C. D., and Moran, T. (1999). Empathy-induced altruism in a prisoner’s dilemma. European Journal of Social Psychology, 29, 909-924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Batson, C. D., Polycarpou, M. P., Harmon-Jones, E., Imhoff, H. J., Mitchener, E. C., Bednar, L. L., et al. (1997). Empathy and attitudes: Can feeling for a member of a stigmatized group improve feelings toward the group? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 105-118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cohen, T. R., Wolf, S. T., Panter, A. T. and C. A. Insko: 2009, Introducing the GASP Scale: A New Measure of Guilt and Shame Proneness (submitted).Google Scholar
  8. Davis, M. H. (1980). A multidimensional approach to individual differences in empathy. JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology, 10, 85.Google Scholar
  9. Davis, M. H. (1983a). The effects of dispositional empathy on emotional reactions and helping: A multidimensional approach. Journal of Personality, 51, 167-184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Davis, M. H. (1983b). Measuring individual differences in empathy: Evidence for a multidimensional approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 113-126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eisenberg, N. (2000). Emotion, regulation, and moral development. Annual Review of Psychology, 51, 665-697.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Eisenberg, N., and Miller, P. A. (1987). The relation of empathy to prosocial and related behaviors. Psychological Bulletin, 101, 91-119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Epley, N., Caruso, E., and Bazerman, M. H. (2006). When perspective taking increases taking: Reactive egoism in social interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 872-889.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fisher, R., Ury, W., and Patton, B. (1991). Getting to yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in (Second ed.). New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  15. Galinsky, A. D., Maddux, W. W., Gilin, D., and White, J. B. (2008). Why it pays to get inside the head of your opponent: The differential effects of perspective taking and empathy in negotiations. Psychological Science, 19, 378-384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Galinsky, A. D., Maddux, W. W., and Ku, G. (2006). ‘The view from the other side of the table’. Negotiation, Harvard Business School Publishing, Case No. NO603A, USA.Google Scholar
  17. Galinsky, A. D., and Moskowitz, G. B. (2000). Perspective-taking: Decreasing stereotype expression, stereotype accessibility, and in-group favoritism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 708-724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Galinsky, A. D., and Mussweiler, T. (2001). First offers as anchors: The role of perspective-taking and negotiator focus. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81, 657-669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lewicki, R. J., Saunders, D. M., and Barry, B. (2007). Negotiation: Readings, Exercises, and Cases (5 ed.). Boston: McGraw Hill/Irwin.Google Scholar
  20. Miller, P. A., and Eisenberg, N. (1988). The relation of empathy to aggressive and externalizing/antisocial behavior. Psychological Bulletin, 103, 324-344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Robinson, R. J., Lewicki, R. J., and Donahue, E. M. (2000). Extending and testing a five factor model of ethical and unethical bargaining tactics: Introducing the SINS scale. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 21, 649-664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Smith, R. H., Webster, J. M., Parrott, W. G., and Eyre, H. L. (2002). The role of public exposure in moral and nonmoral shame and guilt. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 138-159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Stephan, W. G., and Finlay, K. (1999). The role of empathy in improving intergroup relations. Journal of Social Issues, 55, 729-743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tangney, J. P., and Dearing, R. L. (2002). Shame and guilt. New York, NY, USA: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  25. Tangney, J. P., Dearing, R. L., Wagner, P. E., and Gramzow, R. H. (2000). The Test of Self-Conscious Affect – 3 (TOSCA-3). George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.Google Scholar
  26. Tangney, J. P., Stuewig, J., and Mashek, D. J. (2007). Moral emotions and moral behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 345-372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Thompson, L. (2009). The mind and heart of the negotiator (Fourth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  28. Wolf, S. T., Cohen, T. R., Panter, A. T. and C. A. Insko: 2009, Shame Proneness and Guilt Proneness: Toward the Further Understanding of Reactions to Public and Private Transgressions Self and Identity,.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management & Organizations, Kellogg School of ManagementNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations