The Illusion of Transparency in Negotiations

Abstract

The authors examined whether negotiators are prone to an “illusion of transparency,” or the belief that their private thoughts and feelings are more discernible to their negotiation partners than they actually are. In Study One, negotiators who were trying to conceal their preferences thought that their preferences had “leaked out” more than they actually did. In Study Two, experienced negotiators who were trying to convey information about some of their preferences overestimated their partners' ability to discern them. The results of Study Three rule out the possibility that the findings are simply the result of the curse of knowledge, or the projection of one's own knowledge onto others. Discussion explores how the illusion of transparency might impede negotiators' success.

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Van Boven, L., Gilovich, T. & Medvec, V.H. The Illusion of Transparency in Negotiations. Negotiation Journal 19, 117–131 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1023693700484

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Keywords

  • Experienced Negotiator
  • Negotiation Partner
  • Private Thought