The Effects of Goal Revelation on Computer-Mediated Negotiation

Abstract

This paper studies a novel negotiation protocol in settings in which players need to exchange resources in order to achieve their own objective, but are uncertain about the objectives of other participants. The protocol allows participants to request each other to disclose their interests at given points in the negotiation. Revealing information about participants' needs may facilitate agreement, but it also exposes their negotiation strategy to the exploitation of others. Empirical studies were conducted using computer-mediated negotiation scenarios that provided an analogue to the way goals and resources interact in the world. The scenarios varied in the individual positions and interests of participants, as well as the dependency relationships that hold between participants. Results show that those who choose to reveal their underlying goals outperform negotiators in the same setting that use a protocol that forbids revelation. In addition, goal revelation has a positive effect on the aggregate performance of negotiators, and on the likelihood to reach agreement. Further analysis show goal revelation to be a cooperation mechanism by which negotiators are able to identify acceptable agreements in scenarios characterized by few socially (Pareto) beneficial outcomes.


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