Negotiating Over ‘Sacred Values’

When reques­ted to give up a “sac­red value”, the inclu­sion of a fin­an­cial incent­ive incites mor­al out­rage, decreases gen­er­al sup­port for a com­prom­ise, increases anger and increases a sub­ject’s approv­al of “viol­ent oppos­i­tion”.

Research look­ing at our reac­tions to such pro­pos­als offer­s same sug­ges­tions for nego­ti­at­ing over sac­red val­ues.

A more suc­cess­ful tack for nego­ti­at­ing over sac­red val­ues, as it turns out, is to simply use the right words. Wheth­er dis­cuss­ing nuc­le­ar dis­arm­a­ment or reluct­ance to sell one’s lucky mug at a gar­age sale, using spe­cif­ic rhet­or­ic­al strategies can make trade-offs seem less taboo and can facil­it­ate con­flict res­ol­u­tion. […] One tac­tic is to describe tradeoffs in terms of “costs and bene­fits” and “ana­lys­is” rather than in terms of sac­red val­ues and money. This vague util­it­ari­an lan­guage appears to mask the emo­tion-laden taboo nature of the exchange. Anoth­er strategy is to emphas­ize the dire, oblig­at­ory nature of the trade-off. For example, people are more will­ing to sell their body organs for med­ic­al trans­plants when told it is the only way to save lives because this fram­ing pos­its the exchange as one sac­red value for anoth­er. In an age where many of the most volat­ile con­flicts stem from sac­red causes, and politi­cians have ques­tioned effect­ive­ness of dip­lomacy, under­stand­ing how to best nego­ti­ate about these issues has nev­er been more crit­ic­al.

via Schnei­er on Secur­ity