Heuristics and Biases at the Bargaining Table

Russell B. Korobkin
UCLA School of Law

Chris Guthrie
Vanderbilt University – Law School

Marquette Law Review, Vol. 87, p. 795-808, 2004
Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 04-11
UCLA School of Law, Law-Econ Research Paper No. 04/5


In this essay, written for a symposium on The Emerging Interdisciplinary Cannon of Negotiation, we examine the role of heuristics in negotiation from two vantage points. First, we identify the way in which some common heuristics are likely to influence the negotiator’s decision-making processes. Namely, we discuss anchoring and adjustment, availability, self-serving evaluations, framing, the status quo bias, contrast effects, and reactive devaluation. Understanding these common heuristics and how they can cause negotiators’ judgments and choices to deviate from the normative model can enable negotiators to reorient their behavior so it more closely aligns with the normative model or, alternatively, make an informed choice to take advantage of the effort-conserving features of heuristics at the cost of the increased precision that the normative approach offers. Second, we explore how negotiators might capitalize on the knowledge that their counterparts are likely to rely on heuristics in their decision-making processes. We consider, in other words, how negotiators can exploit heuristic reasoning on the part of others for personal gain.

Heuristics and Biases at the Bargaining Table

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