Article Summary: How Is the Boss’s Mood Today? I Want a Raise
Many people assume that their feelings play a big part in the decisions that they make. Research has however shown that other people’s emotions also play a significant role in influencing a person’s choices. When people are engaged in a negotiation, positive feelings will result in a collaborative spirit while anger will result in competitive behavior. A 2004 research by Van Kleef, de Dreu, and Manstead showed that the reaction of an opponent changed the decisions made by the proposer (Andrade & Ho). If the receiver were angry, then the proposer would be more likely to concede. The opposite was found to be true.
This effect only works when the proposer if unaware of the facts. If the receiver reacts in a certain way, the proposer will consider this in making a new offer. The feelings exhibited by the receiver should not be seen to intend to influence the proposer in any way. The proposer is more likely to ask for more when they know that the receiver has earlier been exposed to a source of happy incidental affect. For this to work, the receiver must be unaware that the receiver knows this information. If the receiver finds out that the proposer is trying to profit from the receiver’s happy state, then they will respond negatively.
An experiment to prove the incidental affect involved 122 students as participants for $ 10. They were each asked to view a five-minute clip on a laptop and describe a related story afterward (Andrade & Ho). The proposers would then propose how to share their money with the receiver. The proposer would get either 75% or 50% while the receiver would get the rest. The receivers were also asked to choose an amount. Each participant played seven to ten rounds of the ultimatum game without being told the responses of the receivers.
The proposers watched neutral clips while the receivers watched clips of either a sitcom or a movie clip showing anger. The proposers were told which clips their receivers had watched and the effect it had on them, whether happiness or anger. Half of the receivers were told that the proposers were aware of the clips the receiver had watched (shared condition) while the other half were not (private condition). From the results, all the proposers were able to identify the clip viewed by their receivers correctly. It was assumed that the proposer would make an unfair offer of 75%-25% if they knew that the receiver had watched a happy clip and a fair offer if the receiver had watched an angry clip, but only under the private condition. The findings confirmed this assumption. Under the shared condition, affective information had no impact on both the receiver and the proposer.
Knowledge of another person’s incidental feelings plays a significant role in making decisions. This is also affected by whether the person is aware that the other has this incidental information or not (Andrade & Ho). A person will take advantage of another person’s incidental feelings but only if the person is not aware of it. Proposers make use of their knowledge of the receivers’ affective state with a high level of stability over time. The experiment used in this study did not investigate the economic consequences of exploiting another person’s incidental feelings. The conclusion of the study is that in order for a proposer to profit from receiver’s incidental feelings, the receiver should not be aware that the proposer had knowledge about their state. If the receiver is made aware, then the effects of the incidental feelings will disappear.
Andrade, Eduardo B., and Teck-Hua Ho. “How is the boss’s mood today? I want a raise.” Psychological Science 18.8 (2007): 668-671.