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Good Grief! Anxiety Sours the Economic Benefits of First Offers


Two studies tested whether making first offers influences negotiators’ feelings of anxiety and their sense of satisfaction. The results of Study 1 show that the strategy of making the first offer led to decreased levels of satisfaction with the negotiation process and outcomes. This effect was mediated by perceived feelings of anxiety. Study 2 discerned that anxiety about making the first offer derived from self-perception concerns, represented as anxiety about being taken advantage of by the opposing party. In both studies, anxiety led negotiators who made the first offer to be relatively less satisfied with the negotiation, than negotiators who did not make the first offer, despite the increased economic gains associated with making the first offer.

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  1. 1.

    Consistent with previous research, the amount of the first offer was significantly correlated with the economic outcome (see Table 1). Accordingly, we conducted our analysis controlling only for first offers,

    only for economic outcomes, and for both first offers and economic outcomes. The results remained the same regardless of whether only one of these control variables was included or both were included. In the analysis presented in the results section, we included both of the control variables.

  2. 2.

    Additional analysis showed that when analyzed separately, the same pattern of correlational findings between the predictor and dependent variables was noted for both buyers and sellers.

  3. 3.

    In addition to assessing anxiety-overall before the negotiation began, we also evaluated anxiety about making the first offer (i.e., anxious, under pressure, stressed, and tense) at the end of the negotiation as we did in Study 1. The pre- and post-task measures were significantly correlated (\(r = 0.71,\, p < .001\)). In addition, an exploratory factor analysis showed that a single construct emerged (7 out of 8 factor loadings \(>\)0.70 and one loading equaled 0.63). This suggests that whether anxiety about the first offer is measured before the negotiation (as here in Study 2) or after the negotiation (as in Study 1), the pre- and post-measures are likely to tap the same or a very similar construct.

  4. 4.

    Post-hoc analysis showed that the mean for anxiety-overall differed from the means for the other anxiety measures (\(p\text{ s }<.05\)) listed in Table 2.


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Correspondence to Ashleigh Shelby Rosette.

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Rosette, A.S., Kopelman, S. & Abbott, J.L. Good Grief! Anxiety Sours the Economic Benefits of First Offers. Group Decis Negot 23, 629–647 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10726-013-9348-4

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  • Distributive negotiations
  • Anxiety
  • First offers
  • Satisfaction
  • Individual gains
  • Self perceptions
  • Subjective outcomes
  • Emotions