The authors wish to thank Max Bazerman for his helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. The second experiment was supported by National Science Foundation Grant BNS 821863 to Jeffrey 2. Rubin.
Toward the Reduction of Entrapment1
Version of Record online: 31 JUL 2006
Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume 12, Issue 3, pages 193–208, June 1982
How to Cite
Nathanson, S., Brockner, J., Brenner, D., Samuelson, C., Countryman, M., Lloyd, M. and Rubin, J. Z. (1982), Toward the Reduction of Entrapment. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 12: 193–208. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.1982.tb00859.x
- Issue online: 31 JUL 2006
- Version of Record online: 31 JUL 2006
Entrapping conflicts are those in which decision makers continue investing their resources in a costly or losing course of action in order to justify the appropriateness of already sunken costs. Given the great costs often associated with becoming entrapped, it would seem worthwhile to learn how this decision-making process can be avoided or reduced. The present experiments addressed this issue. In Experiment 1 subjects participated in an entrapping waiting situation in which self-focused attention should have been phenomenologically uncomfortable. To test the notion that self-directed attention would cause reduced entrapment, half of the participants waited in the presence of a mirror whereas half did not. As predicted, subjects became significantly less entrapped in the former than in the latter condition. Experiment 2 studied whether subjects would be less likely to enter a conflict that could later prove entrapping if they were made aware beforehand of the process of entrapment. Half of the individuals in this field experiment were given a brief general description of the process of entrapment, whereas half were not. As expected, subjects were significantly less likely to enter the situation if they had been provided the information about entrapment. The implications of these and other findings are discussed.