Mental Errors

How to Recognize and Avoid Them

Key Topics Covered in This Chapter

  • Escalation
  • Partisan perceptions
  • Irrational expectations
  • Overconfidence
  • Unchecked emotions

THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER described the kinds of structural problems that separate willing parties from negotiated agreements. This chapter describes the mental errors that parties commit during the negotiating process. Each of these errors represents a case of shooting oneself in the foot, and each is amenable to self-correction.


In their book Negotiating Rationally, Max Bazerman and Margaret Neale point to “irrational escalation” as an error committed by otherwise level-headed businesspeople when they get into difficult and competitive negotiations. In their definition, ...

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