Anger suppression in negotiations: the roles of attentional focus and anger source

Bo Shao, Lu Wang, David Cheng, Lorna Doucet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the intrapersonal effects of anger suppression in negotiations. Specifically, we examined when and how anger suppression influences negotiation effectiveness, proposing that suppressing anger may reduce negotiators’ ability to focus on the negotiation and increase their cognitive exhaustion, both of which would in turn lower negotiators’ performance. In addition, we proposed that suppressing anger integral to the negotiation is more costly than suppressing anger incidental to the negotiation. Design/Methodology/Approach: Data were obtained from a controlled laboratory experiment in which a total of 204 undergraduate students participated in a computer-mediated negotiation. Findings: Negotiators who suppressed their anger, compared to those who did not, were less able to focus on the negotiation, which in turn decreased their negotiation performance. The indirect negative effect was only significant when negotiators suppressed anger integral rather than incidental to the negotiation. Implications: The findings suggest that negotiators should be aware when it is (not) detrimental to suppress anger in negotiations. Particularly, negotiators need to be careful and may adopt strategies to maintain their attentional focus when they attempt to suppress anger that is induced by the negotiation process. Originality/Value : Integrating research on emotion regulation with negotiation research, this study is one of the first to investigate the intrapersonal effects of anger suppression in negotiations. More significantly, this study identified both an important psychological mechanism and a moderator of the effects of anger suppression on negotiations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-758
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Business and Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Anger suppression
  • Attentional focus
  • Cognitive exhaustion
  • Emotion regulation
  • Intrapersonal effects
  • Negotiation performance

Cite this