From a Distance, There is Harmony (Sometimes)



  • People tend to resolve small differences when there is some distance between them, helping negotiations run more smoothly
  • But distance can also amplify major points of disagreement

The success of a negotiation may hinge on how much distance there is between the negotiators. Research by Marlone D. Henderson, assistant professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin, suggests that when people are physically far apart from one another, they tend to focus on larger, more important issues, making it easier to resolve their differences about minor details.

But in some cases, separation can hinder the negotiation process by making the major conflicts stand out more than they would in a face-to-face discussion. Henderson discusses the advantages and downsides of distance in negotiations in an installment of the “Knowledge Matters” video series.



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Faculty in this Article

Marlone D. Henderson

Assistant Professor of Psychology College of Liberal Arts, The University of Texas at Austin

Marlone D. Henderson received his B.S. from Michigan State University in 1999 and Ph.D. from New York University in 2006. He joined the faculty at...

About The Author

Rob Heidrick

Writer, McCombs School of Business

Born and raised in Austin, writer Rob Heidrick has spent several years as a contributor and editor at local magazines and community newspapers. He...

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