The Moran Deutsch Interpersonal Negotiation Experiment

The Moran Deutsch Interpersonal Negotiation Experiment

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Interpersonal negotiation is something that is part of our day to day without hardly realizing it. One of the jobs that allows us to better understand how this activity works is the experiment of Morgan Deutsch and Robert Krauss. Let's see it.

Interpersonal negotiation, present in our lives

Negotiation is crucial in our lives. Every day we negotiate all kinds of issues with our environment, from working conditions to the distribution of tasks at home, through leisure plans with friends.

Everything is capable of being negotiated and implies having basic qualities and knowledge to achieve success in these negotiations. This is the basis of the interpersonal negotiation experiment we are talking about in this article.

The experiment of Morgan Deutsch and Robert Krauss investigated interpersonal negotiation It supports two factors as the focus of the investigation. The first was the knowledge of how we communicate with other individuals, and the second, the use of threats as a way to achieve our goals.

It is a social psychology experiment that enjoys great recognition in this field. The reason is that he managed to explain why there are people who are more successful than others in the field of negotiations.

As we said, the pillars of this experiment are communication and the threat. These are the factors that can lead to a negotiation being a success or, conversely, the result is a failure.

Experiment methodology

The experiment was based on a series of games that forced two players to negotiate. Its conclusion can be associated with what is known in game theory as zero-sum games, this is a situation in which the gain or loss of a participant is balanced with the losses or gains of the other participants.

The experiment is based on the fact that there are two approaches that individuals have when they negotiate: It can be cooperatively or competitively. The choice of one style or another generates conflicts between the parties.

For conflicts to have a solution, both approaches are necessary. Morgan Deutsch investigated the use of threats and how people communicate when it comes to interpersonal negotiation.

First experiment

In the first experiment Two participants are asked to imagine that they both run a truck company. The goal, like that of any company, is to earn money.

To achieve this, the company will have to take as many products as possible to the destination in the shortest possible time. Each player will have a single starting point, a single destination and a single competitor.

Both have the same problem and both have two routes that can take from the beginning to the destination. One is the short journey and the other the long journey.. The short route, which is the fastest way to reach the destination, is one way.

Only one of the participants can go through it. This is where interpersonal negotiation comes into play. This will not be direct, as each of the participants can only see the control room for their own truck.

In the image that is used there is a door at the end of the one-way route of each opponent. This will be the communication path between the participants. Each of them will be able to control their own door, which can only be closed when their truck is on the main route. This serves as a threat.

In the first series of tests, both are likely to close their doors forcing both trucks to go the route that is longer, causing a great loss in the trip as a whole.

In the next series of tests, trucks can be found head-on in the one-way road, forcing them to reverse. Thus they lose again wasting time and money.

The second experiment

In the second experiment communication comes into play. For this, Deutsch and Krauss allowed the use of headphones. Everything else remains the same, but now participants could talk to each other.

Even with the headphones, the result was not significantly different from the results of the first experiment when there was no direct means of communication between the two. The communication did not really help the two to achieve a better mutual understanding.

Apparently, people's competitive orientation was stronger than their motivation to communicate.

According to the subjects, it was difficult to really communicate with the other person to think that both are strangers to each other, so the conclusion was that the competitive orientation is stronger than the motivation to communicate.

The third experiment: forced communication

In line with this, they made a third forced communication experiment. Here they had to communicate forcefully.

This resulted in more positive results. From here it is extracted that The competitiveness of individuals tends to overcome effective communication between both parties, since neither party wants to be on the losing side.

In any case, forced communication did not have much effect on the non-threat condition compared to that of not having any, and at the same time the bilateral threat condition did not improve so much.

It seems that people are so competitive when they both feel threatened that it is difficult to prevent both parties from losing out.


Some of the findings of Deutsch and Krauss in their study were the following:

The competitiveness of people tends to overcome effective communication between both parties, since both parties do not want to be on the losing side.

The cooperative style Negotiation is characterized by:

  • Effective communication Where ideas are verbalized, group members pay attention to each other and, at the same time, accept their ideas and then are influenced by them. These groups tend to have less trouble communicating and understanding others.
  • Kindness, help and little obstruction in conversations. Members tend to be generally more satisfied with the group and its solutions, as well as being impressed by the contributions of other group members.
  • The coordination of effort, the division of labor, the orientation to the accomplishment of tasks, the order in the discussion and the high productivity tend to exist in cooperative groups.
  • The feeling of agreeing with the ideas of others and a sense of basic similarity in beliefs and values, as well as confidence in one's ideas and the value that other members attribute to those ideas, are obtained in cooperative groups.
  • The will to improve the power of the other to achieve the objectives. As the capacities of others are strengthened in a cooperative relationship, they are strengthened and vice versa.
  • Define conflicting interests as a problem mutual that must be resolved through a collaborative effort facilitates the recognition of the legitimacy of the interests of others and the need to find a solution that responds to the needs of all. This tends to limit the scope of conflicting interests and maintain attempts. Influence each other decent forms of persuasion.

The competitive style Trading instead is characterized by:

  • The obstruction of communication for the parties to the conflict try to gain advantage by deceiving each other through false promises and misinformation. Communication is ultimately reduced when the parties realize they cannot trust each other.
  • Obstruction and lack of help lead to negative mutual attitudes and the suspicion of the intentions of others. The perceptions of the other over the other tend to focus on the negative qualities of the person and ignore the positive aspects.
  • The parties cannot effectively divide their work and end up duplicating efforts. When they divide it, they continually feel the need to verify the work of others.
  • Continuous disagreement and critical rejection of ideas they reduce the self-confidence of the participants, as well as the confidence in the other parties.
  • The conflicting parties seek to increase their own power and, therefore, they see any increase in the power of the other party as a threat.
  • The competitive process fosters the idea that conflict resolution can only be imposed on the one hand on the other.. This orientation also encourages the use of coercive tactics such as psychological or physical threats and / or violence. This process tends to expand the range of issues in dispute and turns the conflict into a power struggle, with each side trying to win directly. This type of escalation raises the motivational importance of conflict for the participants and makes them more likely to accept a mutual disaster rather than a partial defeat or commitment.

After reading what we have told you about interpersonal negotiation and the Morgan Deutsch experiment, surely now you will know how to get more out of this type of communication.


"Cooperation and Competition" by Morton Deutsch, in The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice, eds. Morton Deutsch and Peter Coleman (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2000)


Game Theory, Trucking Problem, Cooperate vs. Compete


  1. Deveon

    Me against.

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  3. Milkree

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  4. Jakob

    I confirm. All of the above is true. Let's discuss this issue. Here or at PM.

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