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Deception in Negotiation


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation articles > Deception in Negotiation

Misrepresentation | Bluffing | Deception | Falsification | See also


There are many different negative methods used during negotiation and some are generally more acceptable than others. Anton (1990) describes four strategies that are used. In order of acceptability these are: misrepresentation, bluffing, deception and falsification.


Misrepresentation occurs in negotiation where a person deliberately takes a position on something which is not true in some way.


A buyer takes a poverty position, saying they only have a certain amount of money on them (and shows this in their wallet) but actually they have more money in another pocket.

A trade union negotiator takes a hard-line position in pay negotiations, saying the membership are ready to strike when there is actually dissent about this in the ranks.


Bluffing is stating or indicating an intention to commit some action, but then not fulfilling that commitment or never intending to take this action.


A person buying a car says he will bring in an expert to assess the car in order to get the seller to disclose known problems with it.

A parent says they will make a child sleep in the garage when they would not do this.


What Anton called 'deception' is the use of false arguments that leads the other person to an incorrect conclusion.


A hostage negotiator argues that the hostage-taker has been very clever and is clearly in control of the situation (whilst special forces are creeping up towards the house).

A car sales person tells a person trading in a car that there is little demand for this model, leading them to accept a lower trade-in value.


Falsification is the simple telling of lies or otherwise providing false information with the assumption that it is complete and true.


In a job interview a person says they have an MBA when they do not.

A sales person tells a potential customer that there have been no major problems with a product when there has been several significant failures.

See also

Negotiation tactics, Lying, Tricks, Kicks and Bricks


Anton, R.J. (1990). Drawing the line: An exploratory test of ethical behavior in negotiation, International Journal of Conflict Management, 1, 265-180

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