Negotiating with those like me: Similarity salience increases positive attitudes in imagined negotiation with an out-group member.

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Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 28(4), 521–527.


The popular concept of “finding common ground” suggests that recognizing similarities, as opposed to differences, can lead to positive interactions among group members. This adage is supported by the literature on intergroup contact theory, with research indicating that a key pillar in mitigating intergroup bias is positive and meaningful intergroup contact. Similarity attraction theory suggests similar findings—primarily that individuals are attracted to those similar to themselves, which elicit positive affect in interpersonal interactions. This literature offers valuable insights for individuals who take part in interactions in which favorable outcomes are dependent on effective intergroup interaction, such as negotiation. While thorough research has been conducted on the benefits of similarity in interpersonal interactions, surprisingly little work has examined how perceptions of similarity affect one’s evaluations of a negotiation counterpart or the negotiation process when the negotiating counterpart is an out-group member. The present study tests the effect of focusing on similarities versus differences on attitudes toward a forthcoming negotiation and perceptions of the negotiation partner, and whether perceived similarity mediates the impact on attitudes toward the negotiation. Drawing from the research on imagined contact, we simulated a negotiation via vignette, gave U.S.-based participants (N = 530; female = 306, male = 223, nonbinary = 1) a writing task manipulation, and asked them to complete measures to assess similarity, perceptions of their negotiating counterpart’s intelligence, reluctance to compromise, and optimism toward negotiation. Results showed that focusing on similarities between oneself and one’s negotiation partner significantly improved attitudes toward the negotiation process, willingness to compromise, and perceptions of the other’s intelligence. Perceived similarity mediated the relationship between our manipulated writing task and both the participants’ willingness to compromise and their optimism toward the negotiation. Our findings add to the research on the effects of similarity salience in the specific context of negotiation settings and suggest that focusing on similarities with out-group members in negotiations presents practical benefits for conflict resolution processes. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved)