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What's Fair?


A university study in America suggests our brains may be hard wired to consider fairness as a basic need, like food.

The study found that when students received what they considered to be a fair offer, the part of their brains that reacted was the same part that reacted when they were offered food they liked, won money or saw a beautiful face.

It is an interesting idea, although a very small study.

And I suspect it ties in with your own experiences of "the insult zone" in negotiation. Think of the last time you bartered: for example, when buying something second hand. If your first offer is too far below the seller's asking price, what happens? The seller is "insulted"; this is an affront to "fairness". I put the words in quotes because very often such expressions of pain are mere play acting.....but not always. Like any cliches, there is an element of truth.

More seriously, in a more significant, emotionally laden negotiation, we all instinctively know there is a very real insult zone when it comes to that first offer, and it makes no difference if we are talking about money, how often your ex can see the children or how much time is needed to complete a certain task.

No matter what the subject of negotiation, we all bring our ideas of fairness to the table, and we all react badly to an offer we consider "unfair".

Read more about the little study here

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