The alternative negotiator as the invisible third at the table: The Impact of potency information

Ellen Giebels*, Garsten K.W. De Dreu, Evert Van de Vliert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


This study explores the impact of person information about an alternative negotiator in dyadic negotiation in which one of two individuals is able to exit the negotiation to further negotiate with the alternative party. Individualistic negotiators were expected to be influenced more by information about the alternative party's strength than prosocial negotiators. Forty-nine dyads were randomly assigned to one of the experimental conditions in a 2 (Potency of the Alternative Negotiator: Low vs. High) by 2 (One's Own Motivational Orientation: Individualistic vs. Prosocial) factorial design. Face-to-face interactions were audiotaped and transcribed. In line with our expectation, individualistically orientated negotiators engaged in problem solving to a lesser extent and communicated more threats and putdowns when the alternative party was perceived as weak and submissive rather than strong and dominant. Within negotiation dyads power asymmetry evoked power struggle. Eventually, however, negotiators with an alternative party outperformed parties lacking an alternative. As expected, prosocially orientated negotiators were less influenced by both the mere presence of an alternative negotiation partner and potency information about the alternative party. Implications and directions for further research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-21
Number of pages17
JournalInternational journal of conflict management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes


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