Ironically, I was reading the latest articles in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology relevant to negotiation when I heard about Ann Coulter’s diatribe last week regarding her “perfect world” in which everyone would be Christian. When challenged as to whether she actually meant this, she held fast, arguing that Christianity is like “Federal Express” to heaven and other religions are not “perfected.”
For anybody who has heard her speak before, it would come as no surprise that prejudice is a trait of personality. In other words, as Allport explained in 1954, “One of the facts of which we are most certain is that people who reject one out group will tend to reject other out groups. If a person is anti-Jewish, he is likely to be anti-Catholic, anti-Negro, anti any out group.” Graziano et. al. tested this hypothesis in a series of experiments described in their article Attraction, Personality, and Prejudice: Liking None of the People Most of the Time. In their experiments, they found that people high in “agreeableness” were less prejudiced and less likely to act on any latent prejudice. People who were low in agreeableness were negative about everyone but even more so about targeted groups. So, one conclusion after hearing Ann Coulter is to conclude that she is disagreeable (if you hadn’t already concluded that). You might also conclude that, although most people learn not to vocalize any latent prejudices in order to be agreeable, since Ann Coulter gets paid to be offensive, she turns off her “agreeableness” filter for money.
What does this mean for negotiation? A second article from the Journal this month touches on what happens in negotiation when there are issues of power and intergroup v. in-group dynamics. In the studies run by these authors, they first found that high-power individuals are more generous and more likely to reach agreement when they view themselves as inter-dependent with the other party. However, when the high-power individuals became part of a high-power team in a negotiation, the exact opposite occurred. The high-power teams exploited the low-power teams. In other words, when parties are primed for empathy before a negotiation, they will feel it toward their teammates first. Only if it is a one-on-one negotiation, will the empathy toward the other kick-in and spur more generous agreements. So if you are negotiating, feel low-power, and want the other side to empathize with you, you want to try to be sure that you are negotiating one-on-one.
How does this relate to Ann Coulter? I would imagine that Ann Coulter views herself as part of the in-group–Christian, conversative, part of her “perfect world” vision. If she also feels that her public persona is one big team negotiation with the rest of the world, she will have no empathy toward “lower” power groups. It is unclear to me how she would perceive well-known host Donny Deutsch as low-power but clearly she did, having no problem continuing to insult her host even as he gave her numerous chances to correct the record.
And so, I’d like to negotiate with her but only if I have something she wants—hmmm, a teaching job at Marquette? Of course, if we hired her, I’d be violating the precepts of one of my favorites reads from the summer by successful advertising excutives Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval–The Power of Nice!