What Does Accuracy Get You? Empathic Accuracy During a Negotiation.
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Accurately guessing the thoughts and feelings of another person, known as empathic accuracy, is thought to be a useful skill across many domains. However, the evidence supporting the value of empathic accuracy has been mixed, perhaps because the domains previously examined did not require accuracy for functionality. Negotiation may be one domain in which being accurate really matters for positive outcomes for the perceiver. Additionally, men and women may have different motivations to be accurate, including the presence of a competitive or cooperative situation. The primary research questions of this study are: 1) Is empathic accuracy related to outcomes in the negotiation?; 2) Is accuracy dependent on how the negotiation is framed?; and 3) Does how the negotiation is framed affect men’s and women’s empathic accuracy differently? Individual differences in personal power and Machiavellianism are also examined in relation to accuracy in this context. In this study, 336 participants interacted in same-sex dyads to negotiate over small items in either a competitive or cooperative context, resulting in a 2 (gender) x 2 (context) design. Accuracy was measured both as empathic accuracy for partner’s thoughts during the negotiation as well as accuracy for guessing their partner’s idiosyncratic item preferences (provided prior to the negotiation). Actor-Partner Interdependence models were used to estimate the contributions of each person in the dyad to the outcome of interest. Neither empathic accuracy nor accuracy for guessing item values led to any increases in personal gain in the negotiation. However, empathic accuracy was predictive of satisfaction with the outcome of the negotiation, such that more accurate actors and having more accurate partners both led to significantly increased satisfaction with the outcome. Contrary to the hypotheses, accuracy was not affected by gender or the framing of the negotiation or any interactions between the two variables. Individual differences in power and Machiavellianism did not lead to increases in perceiver empathic accuracy, but rather led to decreases in partner’s accuracy: actors that had partners who were high in power or high in Machiavellianism were less empathically accurate. The implications for negotiation research and future empathic accuracy research are discussed.