Effects of Goals on Choice Strategy

How Direct Effects of Goals on Choice Strategy Affect Negotiation

The goal-setting literature has long recognized the importance of goals in influencing behavior. However, little is known about how these effects are mediated by choice strategy and whether they vary as a function of task characteristics. In this study we examined direct effects of goal setting on negotiation outcomes using an experimental design that allowed us to manipulate both goal type and choice strategy while controlling for other variables such as personality traits and cognitive ability. We also explored potential moderating influences of task characteristics including complexity and time pressure.

Method: Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions involving different combinations of goal types and choice strategies. They then negotiated with another participant over two tasks designed to be either simple or complex. After each round of negotiations participants completed several questionnaires measuring their perceptions of the interaction, their self-reported negotiating skills, and their trait anxiety levels.

Results: Results showed that maximizing was associated with better performance than minimizing regardless of goal type; however, only when negotiating over more complex tasks did people maximize their own gains at the expense of others’ losses. Furthermore, individuals who chose to minimize their own costs performed worse overall compared to those who maximized their own benefits. These results suggest that choosing to maximize your own gain may not always lead to optimal outcomes if you have limited information regarding what will happen after making choices.

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