Yes, you like "Frozen", everyone liked "Frozen". And Idina Menzel blew up the musical "Wicked" when she sang "Defying Gravity" so it's no surprise she blew up "Let It Go" when the catalyst in the Disney hit cartoon came to terms with her arcane gifts - but it's just a cartoon. Much as we might like to think it's permissible to do the same if the reasons are valid, there is a time and a place for such displays.

A corporate board room is likely not that place.

A new paper discusses how the interpretation of facial expressions can impact economic decision making such as negotiation. It outlines the intricate role emotion plays in business interactions. They indicate that what you show on your face is as important as what you say in negotiation and what you do with your negotiation offers. 

To test the impact that emotional expression can have on negotiations, researchers paired individuals with computer-generated images of an opposing negotiator in five related experiments. Each featured a two-person task in which the payoffs for each player depended on the simultaneous choice of both players. If both players invested—cooperated—both earned money.

If neither player invested, neither earned money. And, if one player invested and the other player did not, the non-investor outperformed the investor by taking advantage of the investment without putting in any effort or money. This task represents a classic problem in interdependence and economic decision-making.

 In one experiment, the image of the other player either smiled, expressing pleasure after cooperation, or frowned, signaling regret after exploitation. In other cases, it expressed pleasure after exploitation and regret after cooperation. The authors found that people cooperated significantly more with a computer counterpart that smiled when cooperating and expressing sorrow after exploiting the participant. In other words, the study results indicate that context can determine the meaning ascribed to a counterpart's emotional expression and subsequent reactions.

"A business person in a negotiation," said Peter Carnevale, professor of management at USC's Marshall School of Business, "should be careful about managing his or her emotions because the person across the table is making inferences based on facial expressions. For example, a smile at the wrong time can discourage cooperation.

"If you come to an agreement in a negotiation and you are really happy, it may not be a good idea to show how happy you are because it might lead the other person to think that you did better than they did. But in other circumstances, showing strong emotion may be the ticket to success."  


Article: "Reading People's Minds from Emotion Expressions in Interdependent Decision Making,"  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Source: USC Marshall School of Business