Psychology of Compromise: Why Congress Fails

LiveScience:

Hyenas do it. Elephants do it. But apparently congressional representatives do not.

“It” would be cooperation, which has been little-seen in Washington during the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. Despite a deadline they themselves set with consequences no one wanted, Democrats and Republicans went down to the wire before passing a bill that averts major cuts and tax increases but sets the stage for more bickering over the raising of the nation’s debt limit and other budgetary issues.

With few aisle-crossing congressional representatives around, it’s no wonder the two sides rarely see eye-to-eye. But negotiation is tough even without the extra complication of politics. Psychologically, it’s harder to negotiate when the outcomes involve losses (such as higher taxes or fewer benefits) than when they involve gains, University of Amsterdam psychologist Carsten de Dreu told the Association for Psychological Science in 2011 after a congressional supercommittee failed to reach an agreement to reduce the national debt.

Read the whole story: LiveScience

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