Group Decision and Negotiation

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 377–413 | Cite as

Are You Angry (Happy, Sad) or Aren’t You? Emotion Detection Difficulty in Email Negotiation

  • Christoph LaubertEmail author
  • Jennifer Parlamis


This research investigates consistency of emotion detection in email negotiations. Conveying and detecting emotions in negotiation is important because emotions can function strategically. Therefore, this research systematically explores in four separate studies how consistently individuals detect discrete emotions in text-based (email) negotiations. Study 1 compared the ratings from two coders using a high quantity of thought units (n = 1317) and a negative bargaining zone negotiation scenario. In studies 2 and 3, three different negotiation scenarios were explored, first on a thought unit level and then on a message unit level using a hierarchical emotion coding scheme. In all three studies, coders’ perceptions were also compared with the text analysis program LIWC. Study 4 compared coding from seven of the actual negotiators with that of an independent coder and a computerized text program. All four studies found low emotion recognition consistency across 14 different coders with only one negotiation scenario in study 3 showing a moderate level of consistency. Comparisons of computerized coding with human coders did not show improved agreement. High amounts of contrary coding by independent coders were also found. Our research makes an important contribution to the literature by challenging the common assumption that emotions can be reliably detected in email negotiation. Factors that might influence more consistent emotion recognition and conveyance as well as implications for practice and future research are discussed.


Email negotiation Emotion detection Discrete emotion Computerized text analysis LIWC 



We thank Ingmar Geiger, Sabrina Gottschalk, and Alexander Mafael for commenting on earlier versions of this article.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Business and Economics, Marketing DepartmentFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.School of ManagementUniversity of San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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