Group Decision and Negotiation

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 543–571 | Cite as

No Rage Against the Machine: How Computer Agents Mitigate Human Emotional Processes in Electronic Negotiations

  • Marc T. P. AdamEmail author
  • Timm Teubner
  • Henner Gimpel


With the proliferation of information technology and artificial intelligence in society, human users have started to engage in social interactions with computer agents. In this study, we conducted a laboratory experiment in which neurophysiological measurements were used to investigate the effect of computer agents on the affective processes and behavior of human negotiators. Participants engaged in alternating-offer bargaining over the partition of a pie with either human or computer counterparts and under different levels of urgency to reach an agreement. Overall, our data show that the subjects claimed significantly higher proportions for themselves when they made opening offers to computer agents than when bargaining with human counterparts, regardless of the degree of urgency in the negotiation. However, when the subjects responded to computer-issued offers the picture was more complex. Whereas under high-level urgency, the subjects were more likely to accept offers made by computer agents than by human counterparts, we observed the opposite effect for low-level urgency, where they were less likely to accept the offers of computer agents. In combination, these behavioral patterns lead to the use of computer agents yielding an increase in economic efficiency. Further, the subjects exhibited less emotionally charged behavior when facing computer agents than when facing human counterparts, as the intensity of affective processes was lower and the relationship between arousal and offer acceptance was observable only when the counterparts were human. The results of our study shed light on the potential benefits and intricacies of employing computer agents in electronic negotiations.


Bargaining Computer agents Emotions Experiment 



The authors would like to thank Rebecca Dorner, Hanns-Maximilian Schmidt, and Markus Weiler for their invaluable help with preparing and conducting the experiments.


  1. Adam MTP, Krämer J, Müller MB (2015) Auction fever! How time pressure and social competition affect bidders’ arousal and bids in retail auctions. J Retail 91(3):468–485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allred KG, Mallozzi JS, Matsui F, Raia CP (1997) The influence of anger and compassion on negotiation performance. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 70(3):175–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ariely D, Loewenstein G (2006) The heat of the moment: the effect of sexual arousal on sexual decision making. J Behav Decis Mak 19(2):87–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ariely D, Ockenfels A, Roth AE (2005) An experimental analysis of ending rules in Internet auctions. RAND J Econ 36(4):890–907Google Scholar
  5. Baron SA (1990) Environmentally induced positive affect: its impact on self-efficacy, task-performance, negociation, and conflict. J Appl Soc Psychol 20(5):368–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barry B (2008) Negotiator affect: the state of the art (and the science). Group Decis Negot 17(1):97–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barry B, Oliver RL (1996) Affect in dyadic negotiation: a model and propositions. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 67(2):127–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Barry B, Fulmer IS, Van Kleef GA (2004) I laughed, I cried, I settled: The role of emotion in negotiation. In: The handbook of negotiation and culture. Stanford University Press, pp 71–94Google Scholar
  9. Bechara A, Damasio AR (2005) The somatic marker hypothesis: a neural theory of economic decision. Games Econ Behav 52(2):336–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ben-Shakhar G, Bornstein G, Hopfensitz A, van Winden F (2007) Reciprocity and emotions in bargaining using physiological and self-report measures. J Econ Psychol 28(3):314–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bichler M, Kersten GE, Strecker S (2003) Towards a structured design of electronic negotiations. Group Decis Negot 12(4):311–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bolton GE (1991) A comparative model of bargaining: theory and evidence. Am Econ Rev 81(5):1096–1136Google Scholar
  13. Bradley MM, Lang PJ, Cuthbert BN (1993) Emotion, novelty, and the startle reflex: habituation in humans. Behav Neurosci 107(6):970–980CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brave S, Nass C, Hutchinson K (2005) Computers that care: investigating the effects of orientation of emotion exhibited by an embodied computer agent. Int J Human Comput Stud 62(2):161–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. BusinessInsider (2018) Google’s AI demo at this year’s I/O has sparked a huge row about ethics.; Retrieved 14 May 2018
  16. Buunk BP, Collins RL, Taylor SE, VanYperen NW, Dakof GA (1990) The affective consequences of social comparison: either direction has its ups and downs. J Pers Soc Psychol 59(6):1238–1249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Camerer CF (2003) Strategizing in the Brain. Science 300(5626):1673–1675CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Carnevale PJ, Isen AM (1986) The influence of positive affect and visual access on the discovery of integrative solutions in bilateral negotiation. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 37(1):1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chiu CM, Wang ETG, Fang YH, Huang HY (2014) Understanding customers’ repeat purchase intentions in B2C e-commerce: the roles of utilitarian value, hedonic value and perceived risk. Inf SystJ 24(1):85–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Clore GL, Gasper K, Garvin E (2001) Affect as information. In: Handbook of affect and social cognition. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp 121–144Google Scholar
  21. Constine J (2017) Facebook Messenger launches group bots and bot discovery tab.; Retrieved 18 Aug 2017
  22. de Melo CM, Gratch J (2015) People show envy, not guilt, when making decisions with machines. In: International conference on affective computing and intelligent interaction (ACII), pp 315–321Google Scholar
  23. de Melo CM, Carnevale PJ, Read SJ, Gratch J (2014) Reading people’s minds from emotion expressions in interdependent decision making. J Pers Soc Psychol 106(1):73–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. de Melo CM, Gratch J, Carnevale PJ (2015) Humans versus computers: impact of emotion expressions on people’s decision making. IEEE Trans Affect Comput 6(2):127–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. de Melo C, Marsella S, Gratch J (2016) People do not feel guilty about exploiting machines. ACM Trans Comput Hum Interact 23(2):1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Decety J, Jackson PL, Sommerville JA, Chaminade T, Meltzoff AN (2004) The neural bases of cooperation and competition: an fMRI investigation. NeuroImage 23(2):744–751CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Druckman D, Olekalns M (2008) Emotions in negotiation. Group Decis Negot 17(1):1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Dulleck U, Schaffner M, Torgler B (2014) Heartbeat and economic decisions: observing mental stress among proposers and responders in the ultimatum bargaining game. PLoS ONE 9:9Google Scholar
  29. Engelbrecht-Wiggans R, Katok E (2008) Regret and feedback information in first-price sealed-bid auctions. Manage Sci 54(4):808–819CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Festinger L (1954) A theory of social comparison processes. Hum Relat 1(7):117–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Fischbacher U (2007) z-Tree: zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments. Exp Econ 10(2):171–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Fleischman M, Hovy E, Rey M (2002) Towards emotional variation in natural language generation. In: Proceedings of the second international natural language generation conference, pp 1–8Google Scholar
  33. Fonagy P, Gergely G, Jurist EL, Target M (2002) Affect regulation, mentalization and the development of the self. Karnac Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  34. Forbes (2017) How chatbots improve customer experience in every industry: an infograph.; Retrieved 28 Aug 2017
  35. Frith CD, Frith U (2006) The neural basis of mentalizing. Neuron 50(4):531–534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Gabay AS, Radua J, Kempton MJ, Mehta MA (2014) The ultimatum game and the brain: a meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 47:549–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Gajadhar BJ, De Kort YAW, Ijsselsteijn WA (2008) Shared fun is doubled fun: Player enjoyment as a function of social setting. In: Fun and games, Springer, pp 106–117Google Scholar
  38. Greiner B (2015) Subject pool recruitment procedures: organizing experiments with ORSEE. J Econ Sci Assoc 1(1):114–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Griessmair M, Hippmann P, Gettinger J (2015) Emotions in e-negotiations. Emotion in group decision and negotiation, vol 7. Springer, Netherlands, pp 101–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Güth W, Tietz R (1988) Ultimatum bargaining for a shrinking cake—an experimental analysis In: Bounded rational behavior in experimental games and markets. Springer, pp 111–128Google Scholar
  41. Güth W, Tietz R (1990) Ultimatum bargaining behavior: a survey and comparison of experimental results. J Econ Psychol 11(3):417–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Güth W, Schmittberger R, Schwarze B (1982) An experimental analysis of ultimatum games. J Econ Behav Organ 3(4):367–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Haim G, Gal Y, Gelfand M, Kraus S (2012) A cultural sensitive agent for human-computer negotiation. In Proceedings of the 11th international conference on autonomous agents and multiagent systems, pp 1–8Google Scholar
  44. Hegtvedt KA, Killian C (1999) Fairness and emotions: reactions to the process and outcomes of negotiations. Soc Forces 78(1):269–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Holt CA, Laury SK (2002) Risk aversion and incentive effects. Am Econ Rev 92(5):1644–1655CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Hunsaker DA (2017) Anger in negotiations: a review of causes, effects, and unanswered questions. Negot Confl Manage Res 10(3):220–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kersten GE (2001) Modeling distributive and integrative negotiations. Review and revised characterization. Group Decis Negot 10(6):493–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kersten GE, Lai H (2007) Negotiation support and e-negotiation systems: an overview. Group Decis Negot 16(6):553–586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kersten GE, Wachowicz T, Kersten M (2016) Competition, transparency, and reciprocity: a comparative study of auctions and negotiations. Group Decis Negot 25(4):693–722CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Kopelman S, Rosette AS, Thompson L (2006) The three faces of eve: strategic displays of positive, negative, and neutral emotions in negotiations. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 99(1):81–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Kristensen H, Gärling T (1997) The effects of anchor points and reference points on negotiation process and outcome. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 71(1):85–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Ku G, Malhotra D, Murnighan JK (2005) Towards a competitive arousal model of decision-making: a study of auction fever in live and Internet auctions. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 96(2):89–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Kumar R (1997) The role of affect in negotiations: an integrative overview. J Appl Behav Sci 33(1):84–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Lewicki RJ, Barry B, Minton JW (2010) Negotiation. McGraw-Hill Irwin, Burr RidgeGoogle Scholar
  55. Lim S, Reeves B (2010) Computer agents versus avatars: responses to interactive game characters controlled by a computer or other player. Int J Human Comput Stud 68(1–2):57–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Lin R, Kraus S (2010) Can automated agents proficiently negotiate with humans? Commun ACM 53(1):78–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Lo AW, Repin DV, Steenbarger BN, Laibson D, Hirshleifer D, McCabe K (2005) Fear and greed in financial markets: a clinical study of day-traders. Am Econ Rev 95(2):352–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Malhotra D (2010) The desire to win: the effects of competitive arousal on motivation and behavior. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 111(2):139–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Malhotra D, Ku G, Murnighan JK (2008) When winning is everything. Harvard Bus Rev 86(5):78–86Google Scholar
  60. Mandryk RL, Inkpen KM, Calvert TW (2006) Using psychophysiological techniques to measure user experience with entertainment technologies. Behav Inf Technol 25(2):141–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Morris MW, Keltner D (2000) How emotions work: the social functions of emotional expression in negotiations. Res Organ Behav 22:1–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Nass C, Moon Y (2000) Machines and mindlessness: social responses to computers. J Soc Issues 56(1):81–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Nass C, Fogg BJ, Moon Y (1996) Can computers be teammates? Int J Hum Comput Stud 45(6):669–678CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Nass C, Moon YM, Carney P (1999) Are people polite to computers? Responses to computer-based interviewing systems. J Appl Soc Psychol 29(5):1093–1110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Neelin J, Sonnenschein H, Spiegel M (1988) A further test of noncooperative bargaining theory: comment. Am Econ Rev 78(4):824–836Google Scholar
  66. Nelissen RMA, Leliveld MC, Van Dijk E, Zeelenberg M (2011) Fear and guilt in proposers: using emotions to explain offers in ultimatum bargaining. Eur J Soc Psychol 41(1):78–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Nowak KL, Biocca F (2003) The effect of the agency and anthropomorphism on users’ sense of telepresence, copresence, and social presence in virtual environments. Presence 12(5):481–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. O’Connor KM, Arnold JA (2001) Distributive spirals: negotiation impasses and the moderating role of disputant self-efficacy. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 84(1):148–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Ochs J, Roth AE (1989) An experimental study of sequential bargaining. Am Econ Rev 79(3):355–384Google Scholar
  70. Osborne MJ, Rubinstein A (1990) Bargaining and markets. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  71. Paiva A (2000) Affective interactions: towards a new generation of computer interfaces? In: Lecture notes in artificial intelligence. Springer, pp 1–8Google Scholar
  72. Picard RW (2003) Affective computing: challenges. Int J Hum Comput Stud 59(1–2):55–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Pietroni D, Van Kleef GA, De Dreu CKW, Pagliaro S (2008) Emotions as strategic information: effects of other’s emotional expressions on fixed-pie perception, demands, and integrative behavior in negotiation. J Exp Soc Psychol 44(6):1444–1454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Pillutla MM, Murnighan JK (1996) Unfairness, anger, and spite: emotional rejections of ultimatum offers. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 68(3):208–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Piyush N, Choudhury T, Kumar P (2016) Conversational commerce a new era of e-business. In SMART 2016 proceedings, pp 322–327Google Scholar
  76. Polosan M, Baciu M, Cousin E, Perrone M, Pichat C, Bougerol T (2011) An fMRI study of the social competition in healthy subjects. Brain Cogn 77(3):401–411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Ravaja N, Saari T, Turpeinen M, Laarni J, Salminen M, Kivikangas M (2006) Spatial presence and emotions during video game playing: does it matter with whom you play? Presence 15(4):381–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Rilling JK, Sanfey AG, Aronson JA, Nystrom LE, Cohen JD (2004) The neural correlates of theory of mind within interpersonal interactions. NeuroImage 22(4):1694–1703CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Rivers SE, Reyna VF, Mills B (2008) Risk taking under the influence: a fuzzy-trace theory of emotion in adolescence. Dev Rev 28(1):107–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Roth AE, Ockenfels A (2002) Last-minute bidding and the rules for ending second-price auctions: evidence from eBay and Amazon auctions on the Internet. Am Econ Rev 92(4):1093–1103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Rubinstein A (1982) Perfect equilibrium in a bargaining model. Econometrica 50(1):97–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Sanfey AG, Rilling JK, Aronson JA, Nystrom LE, Cohen JD (2003) The neural basis of economic decision making in the ultimatum game. Science 300:1755–1758CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Schoop M, van Amelsvoort M, Gettinger J, Koerner M, Koeszegi ST, van der Wijst P (2014) The interplay of communication and decisions in electronic negotiations: communicative decisions or decisive communication? Group Decis Negot 23(2):167–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Sinaceur M, Tiedens LZ (2006) Get mad and get more than even: when and why anger expression is effective in negotiations. J Exp Soc Psychol 42(3):314–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Solon O (2018) Google’s robot assistant now makes eerily lifelike phone calls for you.; Retrieved 18 May 2018
  86. Teubner T, Adam MTP, Riordan R (2015) The impact of computerized agents on immediate emotions, overall arousal and bidding behavior in electronic auctions. Journal of the Association for Information Systems 16(10):838–879CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Thompson L (1998) The mind and heart of the negotiator. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle RiverGoogle Scholar
  88. van ’t Wout M, Kahn RS, Sanfey AG, Aleman A (2006) Affective state and decision-making in the Ultimatum Game. Exp Brain Res 169(4):564–568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. von der Pütten AM, Krämer NC, Gratch J, Kang SH (2010) ‘It doesn’t matter what you are!’ Explaining social effects of agents and avatars. Comput Hum Behav 26(6):1641–1650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Weibel D, Wissmath B, Habegger S, Steiner Y, Groner R (2008) Playing online games against computer- vs. human-controlled opponents: effects on presence, flow, and enjoyment. Comput Hum Behav 24(5):2274–2291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Wired (2017) Facebook teaches bots how to negotiate. They learn to lie instead.; Retrieved 18 Aug 2017
  92. Xiao B, Benbasat I (2007) E-commerce product recommendation agents: use, characteristics, and impact. MIS Q 31(1):137–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Yang G, Wang R (2013) The institutionalization of an electronic marketplace in China, 1998–2010. J Prod Innov Manag 30(1):96–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia
  2. 2.TU BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.University of AugsburgAugsburgGermany

Personalised recommendations