The compelling power of the better argument? The impact of deliberative communication on negotiation outcomes in two person decision experiments.

PI:                         Katharina Holzinger
Funding:             DFG
Period:                01.02.2014 - 31.01.2017
Team:                   Marius Bayer


One of the central assumptions of the theory of deliberative democracy, and in particular, Jürgen Habermas' discourse theory is the supposition that individual preferences will be subjected to negotiation and, where required, abandoned for the sake of collective interests. This would be achieved through the non-coercive but compelling power of the better argument, through reasoning with generally accepted (valid and universal) norms. The scientific community has however not yet succeeded in providing systematic empirical evidence for this claim. The proposed project intends to pursue this question by following an experimental approach. 240 two-person negotiation games are to be conducted, whereby players discuss conflict situations which are based on matrix games whose equilibria are neither fair nor collectively optimal. The project aims at assessing, (a) whether the negotiation partners are able to achieve a collectively optimal or fair solution and upholding this solution against their individual interests by means of deliberative communication, or respectively, whether non-deliberative communication impedes the ability to achieve and uphold such optimal solutions. Furthermore, the project asks (b) which communicative means are decisive for this ability. The leading hypothesis is that individual interests are the more likely to be overcome in favour of fair and collectively superior results, the higher the deliberative quality of the communication. Moreover, irrespective of the results, greater satisfaction with the solution should be achieved when the deliberative quality of the communication is high.