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Mental Models in Negotiation

3. What are mental models of negotiation?

Mental models are the ways in which people understand social and physical systems. While frames concern how individuals receive and process information, a mental model concerns how individuals approach a situation. That is, it is the mental predisposition that results from a number of influences, such as their mental frame or their cognitive biases. Negotiators’ mental models shape their behavior in the negotiation process. Five distinct mental models of negotiation include:

⁃ Haggling Model – This is a competitive mindset where each negotiator tries to obtain the biggest share of the bargaining zone. This is often characteristic of a competitive approach to negotiations that may employ a power-based or interest-based view of the negotiation.

⁃ Cost-benefit analysis (Decision-making model) – This is a logic-based model that draws more heavily upon a collaborative strategy used to expand the potential value available.

⁃ Game-playing model – This is characteristic of a competitive bargaining strategy in which one party seeks to maximize their value by outmaneuvering the other party.

⁃ Partnership model – Negotiators who build rapport to nurture long-term relationships and often make sacrifices to uphold the relationship. This is characteristic of a collaborate negotiating strategy.

⁃ Problem-solving model – This model seeks to come to a firm, logical outcome that resolves any conflicts. It is generally marked by a collaborative or accommodative strategy.

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