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