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Tit-For-Tat (TFT)

TFT was a strategy where, in each concurrent negotiation, the proponent matched the cooperative or non-cooperative strategy used by his or her opponent in the previous negotiation (Oskamp, 1977). If the opponent in negotiation n was cooperative, then the proponent took a cooperative stance in negotiation n+1. If the opponent in negotiation n was non-cooperative, then the proponent reciprocated with non-cooperation in negotiation n+1. Proponents never unilaterally shifted toward non-cooperation. Non-cooperation was a reaction to an opponent's non-cooperative posture (Evans, 2003). A unilateral shift to cooperation was effective in breaking deadlocks; but only when the unconditional concessions offered were immediately reciprocated (Komorita et al., 1991).

Laboratory studies (Axelrod, 1984) employing a repetitive series of prisoner's dilemma negotiations demonstrated that consistent implementation of the TFT strategy resulted in a shift toward cooperation and a corollary increase in the average payout for both parties. When non-cooperation consistently followed non-cooperation, opponents realized the futility of non-cooperation (Pruitt & Kimmel, 1977). When participants reciprocated exploitative moves with exploitative moves, cooperation emerged as the best alternative strategy to maximize individual outcomes (Parks & Rumble, 2001).

Pruitt and Kimmel (1977) found that consistent cooperation encouraged exploitation. In Oskamp's (1977) review, TFT was more effective than consistent cooperation while consistent cooperation was more effective then never conceding. A study by Van Lange and Visser (1999) added support that TFT produced more equitable outcomes than either consistent cooperation or consistent non-cooperation. Though an unconditional cooperative strategy produced the highest collective outcomes, Van Lange and Visser found that resultant outcomes consistently favored the non-cooperative opponent. Mutual unconditional uncooperative strategies resulted in negative outcomes for both opponents and proponents (Van Lange & Visser, 1999).

Axelrod (1984), in his seminal book, The Evolution of Cooperation, recommended a cooperative opening move in prisoner's dilemma negotiations. In subsequent moves the proponent reciprocated the prior negotiating position taken by the opponent (Evans, 2003). Pruitt and Kimmel (1977) argued that a slow-to-forgive and slow-to-retaliate strategy was more effective than immediately matching cooperative or non-cooperative behaviors. For Pruitt and Kimmel, immediate reciprocation of cooperation instigated exploitative behaviors by opponents. However, Komorita et al. (1991) found that immediately reciprocating cooperation promoted cooperation and reduced the potential for deadlock. According to Komorita et al., immediate reciprocation for non-cooperation was less important than the immediate reciprocation of cooperation.

Komorita et al. (1991) found that a strategy of toughness, where retaliation for non-cooperation was immediate and cooperative reciprocation lagged, failed to promote cooperativeness. When facing a powerful opponent with exploitive potential, Komorita et al. recommended a tough-to-easy strategy. In the tough-to-easy strategy, negotiations began with non-cooperation and then gradually shifted toward cooperativeness.

In a recent laboratory study, Parks and Rumble (2001) concluded that the most effective initial opening move, in a mixed motive environment with an ongoing pattern of continuing negotiations, was cooperation. If the opponent was cooperative, then the proponent reciprocated cooperativeness. If the opponent was non-cooperative or exploitative, then the proponent followed with a strategy of slow retaliation. In slow retaliation, the proponent carried his or her cooperative posture and intentions into the next session. If the opponent failed to reciprocate cooperation in that next session, the proponent shifted to non-cooperation. The non-cooperative stance remained in place until the opponent shifted to cooperation, which the proponent then immediately reciprocated with cooperation.

Social Motivations and Tit-for-Tat (TFT)

According to Van Lange and Visser (1999), negotiators held three types of social motivations: pro-social, individualistic, and competitive. Individuals with a competitive orientation sought win-lose type outcomes where the outcome for self exceeded the outcome received by the other party (Van Lange & Visser, 1999). Competitive negotiators entered the negotiation anticipating a hostile and non-cooperative environment (Parks & Rumble, 2001). Individuals with an individualist orientation preferred to maximize personal outcomes without regard for the outcome attained by others (Van Lange & Visser, 1999). Finally, pro-social individuals sought win-win type solutions yielding the largest collective outcome (Van Lange & Visser, 1999).

Pro-socials initiated interactions by taking a cooperative stance (Van Lange & Visser, 1999). Pro-socials shifted to non-cooperation only when their cooperative overtures were not reciprocated (Parks & Rumble, 2001). Pro-socials took a cooperative stance when opponents signaled cooperative intent or when negotiating with individuals of cooperative and non-exploitative repute (Parks & Rumble, 2001). In contrast, competitors only chose cooperation when opponents demonstrated cooperative intent and the attainment of beneficial outcomes necessitated cooperation (Parks & Rumble, 2001).

Competitors entered interactions by seeking to maximize relative gains using exploitation and non-cooperation (Parks & Rumble, 2001). Van Lange and Visser (1999) found that immediate retaliation against a competitor's non-cooperative stance did not shift the competitive-oriented negotiator toward cooperation. Since cooperation would not provide an outcome of relative advantage, competitive-oriented individuals found no advantages in cooperative postures. To avoid the pursuit of a self-centered or purely competitive strategy, Van Lange and Visser found that proponents preferred to avoid competitive others. Since the competitive-oriented individual refused to shift toward cooperation, thus forcing proponents to implement matching self-centered and exploitive strategies, proponents often reduced the level of interaction (Van Lange & Visser, 1999).

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February 2006