NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Getting angry might help business negotiations with European Americans but losing your temper with Asians is likely to also lose you the deal, according to a study on how different cultures react to anger.
Researchers from INSEAD in France and from the University of California, Berkeley, set out to see if anger was a good strategy in negotiations after several studies showed it could be an effective strategy as it was seen as a sign of toughness.
For the study volunteers at the University of California were split into two groups — with 63 Americans of European background and 67 American Asians or Asians — and put into a hypothetical negotiation situation as a salesman.
The students were supposed to be selling a cell phone in a negotiation on a computer and making deals on issues like the warranty period and price but were not told that the client would get angry in the course of negotiations.
“European Americans made larger concessions to an angry opponent than to a non-emotional opponent. Asians and Asian Americans, however, made smaller concessions if their opponent was angry rather than non-emotional,” the researchers found.
A second experiment started with telling the participants whether or not being angry was acceptable during the study.
Asians and Asian Americans made greater concessions to an angry opponent if they were told this was acceptable, and European Americans were less likely to make concessions if they were told that anger was unacceptable.
Researcher Hajo Adam from INSEAD said people acted differently when anger was perceived as inappropriate.
“People tend to react negatively. They no longer want to concede. They may even want to shut down and potentially penalize the counterpart for acting inappropriately,” he said.
The researchers said the results of the study were an important step in understanding how culture and emotions interact in negotiations.
“The increasingly global nature of society highlights the importance of continuing to investigate the interplay of culture and emotions in a broad array of social settings,” they added.
The study is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Reporting by Daniel Lippman; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith