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A literature review of cognitive biases in negotiation processes

Andrea Caputo (Department of Economics, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Rome, Italy)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 30 September 2013




What is the discipline's current grasp of cognitive biases in negotiation processes? What lessons can be drawn from this body of literature? The purpose of this paper is to review and discuss the limited research on cognitive biases in the context of negotiations.


This article reviews research from judgment and decision-making, conflict management, psychology, and management literatures to systematize what we already know about cognitive biases in negotiations.


Decision-making studies have mainly identified 21 biases that may lead to lower quality decisions. Only five of those biases have been studied relating to negotiations: the anchoring, the overconfidence, the framing, the status quo and the self-serving bias. Moreover, negotiation literature has identified five additional biases that affect negotiation processes: the fixed-pie error, the incompatibility error, the intergroup bias, the relationship bias and the toughness bias. Biased behavior differs across cultures and emotional mood.

Research limitations/implications

Implications for future research include building comprehensive models of how negotiators can overcome cognitive biases, studying interconnections between different biases, and increasing complexity of the studies to provide practitioners with more practical advice.


The literature reviewed in this paper spans diverse disciplines and perspectives. This paper can be a starting point for researchers interested in understanding how cognitive biases affect negotiations. Moreover, it could be a starting point for future research on this field.



The author thanks James Bailey, Gianpaolo Abatecola, Matt Cronin, and the anonymous reviewers for helpful and valuable comments, Martina Dorigo for personal support, the Research Program in Social and Organizational Learning at The George Washington University School of Business for hosting the research, and the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Roberto Cafferata and Corrado Cerruti for having supported this research and granted his visiting at The George Washington University.


Caputo, A. (2013), "A literature review of cognitive biases in negotiation processes", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 374-398.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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