The role of history in negotiations is a double-edged sword. Although parties can develop trust over time, there are also countless examples of protracted feuds that developed as a result of conflicting interpretations and invocations of history. We propose that, due to biased invocations of the past, history is likely to play a pernicious role in negotiations – particularly when given an asymmetric history in which one party benefited at the expense of the other. We test this prediction in two, two-stage experiments. We find that asymmetric history in a first stage leads to increased impasses in a second stage, but that this effect holds only when the second stage pairs the same two parties who shared the asymmetric history in the first.
- bargaining impasse