This article was produced and financed by BI Norwegian Business School

Think twice about quick decision-making

Some people have a strong need to make decisions quickly. However, a high need for closure may lead to decisions that are based on poor judgment, warns researcher at BI Norwegian Business School.

BI Norwegian Business School

BI is a private and independent business school in Norway.

Some people have a stronger need than others to cut through and take a decision, a great need for closure. Others do not have the same need for a fast decision-making.

The difference is rooted in our personality traits, but it is also possible to induce the need for a quick decision through e.g. time pressure.

“When you have to make quick decisions, it might be a good thing to focus on closure. But a high need for closure may also lead to decisions that are based on poor judgment,” warns Sinem Acar-Burkay at BI Norwegian Business School.

In her PhD project at BI Norwegian Business School, Acar-Burkay has conducted a series of experiments to see how high and low need for closure affect negotiations. She has also looked at the impact of perceived closeness or distance between the negotiation partners.

Strong impact on trust

The researcher recruited a total of 1245 participants to join five different experiments that investigate the link between individuals’ need for closure, their perceived closeness to a person, and their trust in that person.

The study shows that individuals who feel a strong need to cut through and take a decision, either trust the other party a great deal or not at all.  There is no middle ground; the judgments of these individuals are highly polarised.

Individuals with a less strong need to conclude, however, show a moderate degree of trust in the other party.

“They take the necessary time to analyse the situation and make a more careful assessment of how much they can trust the other party,” Sinem Acar-Burkay explains.

Perception of closeness

The BI researcher also demonstrates that your perception of closeness to or distance from your negotiation partner, affects how much you can trust him or her.

It does not take much to create a sense of closeness. It might be that you come from the same city, are born on the same date, have the same first name or the same initials, or that you share an interest, for example.

Trustors with a strong need to cut through tend to place considerable trust in another person when they have something in common with him or her. They will have little trust in someone they do not know or feel they have nothing in common with.

Trustors who do not feel this great need to cut through, will be less taken in by perceived commonalities.

New information on the other party

What happens when trustors receive new information that shows what the other party is really like? To what the extent will it change their level of trust?

Trustors who show a moderate degree of trust in the other party, those who are not so eager for closure, are receptive to new information. They will to a greater extent adjust their views to accommodate the new feedback.

Trustors who have either a great deal of trust or very little trust in the other party, are not so receptive to new information. Consequently, they will continue to have a high (or low) degree of trust in the other party, even when there is reason to think otherwise.

“My research show that it is difficult to change people’s thinking when they have a polarised trust in others,” says Sinem Acar-Burkay.

May be manipulated

According to Sinem Acar-Burkay, is it not difficult to manipulate both the need to make a quick decision and the perception of closeness to the seller (if you are the buyer). The need to make a quick decision can be induced, for instance, through time pressure. as we know from property deals, for instance,00 noise and stress in the negotiation situation.

A seller who has “googled” the potential buyer might well find information that can be used to create a perception of closeness.

“There is then a risk that you will trust the other party to a higher or lower degree than what is warranted,” she warns. In addition, it is hard to change such evaluations later on.

With less time pressure and noise in our surroundings, we tend to demonstrate a moderate degree of trust in a trustee, and we will be able to change our views on the basis of experience and new information.

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