How people from different cultures react to anger during negotiations

Last Updated: Wed, Jul 21, 2010 08:00 hrs

Getting angry while negotiating with European Americans might just get you your way, but the same is not true with East Asians, according to a study.

The study has claimed that cultural reactions to anger expression can affect negotiation outcomes.

Hajo Adam, of INSEAD in France, coauthored the new study with William Maddux of INSEAD and Aiwa Shirako of the University of California - Berkeley.

Adam noticed differences in emotions at the institute where he works.

"INSEAD is very diverse, with people from all over the world. I noticed that sometimes people get angry, and you see that people react differently to that. I was wondering whether a lot of those different reactions might be explained by cultural backgrounds," he said.

In the experiment, he used volunteers at the University of California - Berkeley.

Half were Americans of European ethnicity and half were Asian or Asian American. Each student took part in a negotiation on a computer.

It was found that European Americans made larger concessions to an angry opponent than to a non-emotional opponent.

Asians and Asian Americans, however, made smaller concessions if their opponent was angry rather than non-emotional.

A subsequent experiment suggested that this might happen because of cultural norms about whether it's appropriate to get mad.

This experiment started with telling the participants whether or not expressing anger was acceptable during the study.

Asians and Asian Americans made greater concessions to an angry opponent if they were told that expressing anger was acceptable, and European Americans were less likely to make concessions if they were told that anger was unacceptable.

When anger expressions are perceived as inappropriate, "People tend to react negatively. They no longer want to concede," said Adam.

"They may even want to shut down and potentially penalize the counterpart for acting inappropriately.

"I think what's important is that one person expressing emotions really affects another person's feelings, thoughts, and behaviour. And these reactions to emotional displays can critically depend on a person's cultural background," he added.

The research is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. (ANI)

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