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Ivona Hideg
Ivona Hideg

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WLU

“Don’t make me angry:” Laurier prof’s research shows using anger in negotiations is a tricky technique

Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Jan 23/13| For Immediate Release

Contact:

Ivona Hideg, Assistant Professor
School of Business and Economics
519-884-0710 ext. 4414 ihideg@wlu.ca

or 

Kevin Crowley, Director, Communications & Public Affairs
Wilfrid Laurier University
519-884-0710 ext. 3070 or kcrowley@wlu.ca

WATERLOO – “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry,” Bruce Banner says in The Incredible Hulk television show. While anger has been proven to induce cooperation in a negotiation situation – as the Hulk famously demonstrates – Laurier researcher Ivona Hideg discovered that anger is only an effective negotiating tool if it is genuine.

Hideg, an assistant professor in Wilfrid Laurier University’s School of Business and Economics, recently co-authored the article “The consequences of faking anger in negotiations,” which was accepted for publication in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and featured in the Wall Street Journal. Hideg and her co-authors, Stéphane Côté from the University of Toronto and Gerben Van Kleef from University of Amsterdam, conducted experiments with undergraduate students and actors that show faking anger in a negotiation backfires.

Students were asked to negotiate the price of a car with an actor as the salesperson. The actors were asked to either display no emotion, obviously fake anger, or genuine anger. Two experiments – one dealing with face-to-face negotiations and the other with video-mediated negotiations – demonstrated that “surface acting” or inauthentic anger (compared to showing no emotion) made students demand a better deal due to reduced trust. In addition, students displayed a lower desire for future interactions.

On the other hand, “deep acting” or more genuine anger decreased students’ demands (compared to showing no emotion) because the actors were perceived as being more tough, which is consistent with prior research on the effects of showing anger in negotiations.

Hideg’s research suggests that the same emotion (anger) can produce different outcomes depending on whether it is genuine or faked. Generally, the results also suggest that faking emotions using surface-acting techniques may be detrimental to conflict resolution.

"Anger is a valuable tool in negotiations, but only as long as it is genuine and not strategically gamed,” said Hideg. “Negotiators should beware of using anger strategically in negotiations as fake anger may backfire by undermining the other party’s trust and consequently leading to a tougher negotiation and higher demands from the other party."

For more information about this research, please contact Ivona Hideg at ihideg@wlu.ca.

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