Negotiation research you can use: Why screen size matters in negotiation

By on / Negotiation Skills

Do you sometimes negotiate on your smartphone? Before tapping out your next offer, you might want to switch to a video chat on your laptop, the results of a new study led by Rutgers Business School professor Terri R. Kurtzberg suggest.

In one experiment, the researchers paired up 376 undergraduate business students and had them take part in a fictitious negotiation for a used car. While all pairs negotiated at a distance, some negotiated on their computers and others on their smartphones. In addition, some negotiated via Skype’s video mode, while others simply typed messages in Skype’s text mode.

The researchers assessed participants’ outcomes using a point system. Whether they negotiated via video or text, pairs who used computers achieved better combined outcomes than those using phones. In addition, those who negotiated via video did better than those who conducted text negotiations. The highest outcomes were achieved by pairs who negotiated via video on a computer.

Why might larger laptop screens promote better negotiation results than smaller smartphone screens? It could be that negotiators are “more engaged and less distracted” when looking at a larger screen, the researchers speculate. Moreover, for text negotiations, the relative ease of typing on a computer keyboard as compared to a smartphone screen might encourage longer, more creative messages. Whatever the reason, the findings indicate there may be value to putting down your phone and powering up your computer when negotiating at a distance.

Resource: “The Effect of Screen Size and E-Communication Richness on Negotiation Performance,” by Terri R. Kurtzberg, Sanghoon Kang, and Charles E. Naquin.Group Decision and Negotiation, 2018.

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