I am an Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I received my PhD and Masters degrees in Management from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and my Bachelors degree in Psychology, magna cum laude, from Harvard University.
My research uses methods and models developed in one research area to generate new theoretical insights in other research areas, often with the goal of reconciling disparate findings. Much of my research falls into three broadly defined categories: (1) research on whether and how conclusions about the accuracy of interpersonal perceptions change in the context of work; (2) research that applies the social relations model—a model developed to study interpersonal perceptions—to generate theoretical insights into other dyadic phenomena; and (3) research on the workplace consequences of dynamic internal states. See the research section below to download reprints of published papers. A curriculum vitae is also available.
I teach negotiations in UNC's MBA program and conduct negotiations workshops with leaders in government and private industry. I also consult on high-value negotiations. Previous clients include, among others, Exxon Mobil, FedEx, MetLife, Owens Corning, the US Department of Veteran Affairs, and all service branches of the US Department of Defense. Please contact me if you'd like to discuss a potential workshop or consulting opportunity.
To help others teach negotiations, I created CustomNegotiations.org, a website that provides negotiation teachers with free multi- and single-issue negotiation exercises that can be customized, personalized, and randomized to better meet the needs of clients and students.
Elfenbein, H. A., Eisenkraft, N., Curhan, J., & DiLalla, L. F. (in press). On the relative importance of individual-level characteristics and dyadic interaction effects in distributive negotiations: Variance partitioning evidence from a twins study. Journal of Applied Psychology (PDF).
Negotiations are inherently dyadic. Negotiators’ individual-level characteristics may not only make them perform better or worse in general, but also may make them particularly well- or poorly-suited to negotiate with a particular counterpart. The present research estimates the extent to which performance in a distributive negotiation is affected by (1) the negotiators’ individual-level characteristics and (2) dyadic interaction effects that are defined by the unique pairings between the negotiators and their counterparts. Because negotiators cannot interact multiple times without carryover effects, we estimated the relative importance of these factors with a new methodology that used twin siblings as stand-ins for one another. Participants engaged in a series of one-on-one negotiations with counterparts while, elsewhere, their co-twins engaged in the same series of one-on-one negotiations with the co-twins of those counterparts. In these data, dyadic interaction effects explained more variation in negotiation economic outcomes than did individual differences, whereas individual differences explain more than twice as much of the variation in subjective negotiation outcomes than did dyadic interaction effects. These results suggest dyadic interaction effects represent an understudied area for future research, particularly with regard to the economic outcomes of negotiations.
Eisenkraft, N., Elfenbein, H. A., & Kopelman, S. (2017). We know who likes us, but not who competes against us: Dyadic meta-accuracy among work colleagues. Psychological Science, 28, 233-241 (PDF).
Research on dyadic meta-accuracy suggests that people can accurately judge how their acquaintances feel toward them. However, existing studies have focused exclusively on positive feelings such as liking. We present the first dyadic meta-accuracy research on competition, a common dynamic among work colleagues. Data from car salespeople and student project teams suggest that the prevailing model of dyadic meta-accuracy breaks down for judgments of competition. For liking, projecting one’s own feelings promotes dyadic meta-accuracy because colleagues tend to reciprocate each other’s liking. For competition, the tendency to compete against superior performers reduces reciprocity and renders such self-projection ineffective. The colleagues who like you may know that you like them, but the colleagues with whom you compete are, just as likely as not, unaware that these feelings even exist.
Eisenkraft, N. (2017). CustomNegotiations.org: A free resource for creating custom negotiation simulations. Negotiation Journal, 33, 239-253. (PDF).
Negotiation role-playing simulations are among the most effective and widely used methods for teaching and conducting research on negotiations. Teachers and researchers can either lice a published "off-the-shelf" simulation or write their own custom "bespoke" simulation. Off-the-shelf simulations are usually high-quality, include teaching materials, and are typically price affordably, whereas bespoke simulations are fully customizable and ensure that participants will face a novel challenge. In this article, I introduce a third option: CustomNegotiations.org, a free resource for creating custom negotaition simulations that have the benefits of both off-the-shelf and bespoke simulations. I describe this resource and preview have negotiation instructors can use it to customize simulations for their own classes. I also discuss possible future directions for this kind of platform.
Shah, A. M., Eisenkraft, N., Bettman, J. R., & Chartrand, T. L. (2016). Paper or plastic: How we pay influences post-transaction connection. Journal of Consumer Research, 42, 688-708 (PDF).
Does the way that individuals pay for a good or service influence the amount of connection they feel after the purchase has occurred? Employing a multi-method approach across four studies, we find that individuals who pay using a relatively more painful form of payment (e.g., cash or check) increase their post-transaction connection to the product they purchased and/or the organization their purchase supports in comparison to those who pay with less painful forms of payment (e.g., debit or credit card). Specifically, individuals who pay with more painful forms of payment increase their emotional attachment to a product, decrease their commitment to non-chosen alternatives, are more likely to publicly signal their commitment to an organization, and are more likely to make a repeat transaction. Moreover, the psychological pain of payment influences post-transaction connection even when the objective monetary cost remains constant and when the psychological cost is indirect (i.e., donating someone else’s money). Increasing the psychological pain of payment appears to have beneficial consequences with respect to increasing downstream product and brand connection.
Knight, A. P., & Eisenkraft, N. (2015). Positive is usually good, negative is not always bad: The effects of group affect on social integration and task performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100, 1214-1227 (PDF).
Grounded in a social functional perspective, this paper examines the conditions under which group affect influences group functioning. Using meta-analysis, we leverage heterogeneity across 39 independent studies of 2,799 groups to understand how contextual factors – group affect source (exogenous or endogenous to the group) and group lifespan (one-shot or ongoing) – moderate the influence of shared feelings on social integration and task performance. As predicted, results indicate that group positive affect has consistent positive effects on social integration and task performance regardless of contextual idiosyncrasies. The effects of group negative affect, on the other hand, are context-dependent. Shared negative feelings promote social integration and task performance when stemming from an exogenous source or experienced in a one-shot group, but undermine social integration and task performance when stemming from an endogenous source or experienced in an ongoing group. We discuss implications of our findings and highlight directions for future theory and research on group affect.
Elfenbein, H. A., Barsade, S. G., & Eisenkraft, N. (2015). The social perception of emotional abilities: Expanding what we know about observer ratings of emotional intelligence. Emotion, 15, 17-34 (PDF).
We examine the social perception of emotional intelligence (EI) through the use of observer ratings. Individuals frequently judge others’ emotional abilities in real-world settings, yet we know little about the properties of such ratings. This paper examines the social perception of EI and expands the evidence to evaluate its reliability and cross-judge agreement, as well as convergent, divergent, and predictive validity. Three studies use real-world colleagues as observers and data from 2,521 participants. Results indicate significant consensus across observers about targets’ EI, moderate but significant self-observer agreement, modest but relatively consistent discriminant validity across the components of EI. Observer ratings significantly predicted interdependent task performance, even after controlling for numerous factors. Notably, predictive validity was greater for observer-rated than self-rated or ability-tested EI. We discuss the minimal associations of observer ratings with ability-tested EI, study limitations, future directions, and practical implications.
Christian, M. S., Eisenkraft, N., & Kapadia, C. (2015). Dynamic associations between somatic complaints, human energy, and discretionary behaviors: Experiences with pain fluctuations at work. Administrative Science Quarterly, 60, 66-102 (PDF).
Using data from two experience-sampling studies, this paper investigates the dynamic relationships between discretionary behaviors at work—voluntary tasks that employees perform—and internal somatic complaints, focusing specifically on a person’s pain fluctuations. Integrating theories of human energy with evidence from the organizational, psychological, and medical sciences, we argue that pain both depletes and redirects the allocation of employees’ energy. We hypothesize that somatic pain is associated with depleted resources and lowered work engagement, which in turn are related to ebbs and flows in discretionary behaviors, but that people will habituate to the negative effects of pain over time. Data from the two studies largely support our hypotheses. Study 1 explores the daily experiences of a sample of office workers with chronic pain, while Study 2 extends the findings to a larger non-clinical population and examines the effect of momentary pain during the workday. Our results suggest that pain fluctuations, through their effects on two forms of human energy, potential and in-use energy, are associated with increased withdrawal and a decrease in proactive extra-role behaviors at work. The results also suggest that employees who have experienced chronic plain for a longer time are less affected by the normally depleting effects of pain.
Eisenkraft, N. (2013). Accurate by way of aggregation: Should you trust your intuition-based first impressions? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 277-279 (PDF).
How much should you trust your intuition about other people's job performance? Different literatures provide different answers to this question. Social psychological research on “thin slices” suggests that untrained observers can predict a person's job performance based on a few moments of observation. Industrial/organizational psychologists have found a weaker relationship between job performance and the intuitive judgments that people make following employment interviews. This paper argues that interviewers' intuitive judgments appear to be weaker predictors than intuitive judgments of thin slices because thin slices research measures predictive validity at the aggregate-level of analysis. Intuition-based first impressions will not usually be valid predictors of job performance unless people have an opportunity to collect and combine the judgments of multiple independent raters.
Eisenkraft, N. & Elfenbein, H. A. (2010). The way you make me feel: Evidence for individual differences in affective presence. Psychological Science, 21, 505 – 510 (PDF).
How much do individuals consistently influence the way other people feel? Data from 48 work groups suggest there are consistent individual differences both in the emotions that people tend to experience (trait affect) and in the emotions that people tend to elicit in others (trait affective presence. A social relations model analysis revealed that after controlling for emotional contagion, the variance in emotions that people feel is explained by both trait affect (31% of positive affect and 19% of negative affect) and trait affective presence (10% of positive affect and 23% of negative affect). These analyses suggest that affective presence exerts as much influence over interaction partners’ negative feelings as does these interaction partners’ own trait affect. Positive affective presence correlated with greater network centrality, and negative affective presence correlated with lower agreeableness and greater extraversion.
Curhan, J. R., Elfenbein, H. A., & Eisenkraft, N. (2010). The objective value of subjective value: A multi-round negotiation study. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40, 690 – 709 (PDF).
A 2-round negotiation study provided evidence that positive feelings resulting from one negotiation can be economically rewarding in a second negotiation. Negotiators experiencing greater subjective value (SV)—that is, social, perceptual, and emotional outcomes from a negotiation—in Round 1 achieved greater individual and joint objective negotiation performance in Round 2, even with Round 1 economic outcomes controlled. Moreover, Round 1 SV predicted the desire to negotiate again with the same counterpart, whereas objective negotiation performance had no such association. Taken together, the results suggest that positive feelings, not just positive outcomes, can evoke future economic success.
Elfenbein, H. A. & Eisenkraft, N. (2010). The relationship between displaying and perceiving nonverbal cues of affect: A meta-analysis to solve an old mystery, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 301-318 (PDF).
The authors address the decades-old mystery of the association between individual differences in the expression and perception of nonverbal cues of affect. Prior theories predicted positive, negative, and zero correlations in performance — given empirical results ranging from r = -.80 to r = +.64. A meta-analysis of 40 effects showed a positive correlation for nonverbal behaviors elicited as intentional communication displays but zero for spontaneous, naturalistic, or a combination of display types. There was greater variation in the results of studies having round robin designs and analyzed with statistics that do not account for the interdependence of data. The authors discuss implications for theorists to distinguish emotional skills in terms of what people are capable of doing versus what people actually do.
Elfenbein, H. A., Foo, M. D., Mandal, M. K., Biswal, R., Eisenkraft, N., Lim, A., & Sharma, S. (2010). Displaying and perceiving nonverbal cues of affect: New data on an old question. Journal of Research in Personality, 44, 199-206 (PDF).
Previous research on the link between individual differences in emotional expression and emotion recognition over six decades revealed widely varying results. A recent meta-analysis (Elfenbein & Eisenkraft, 2010) showed a positive correlation for displays elicited as intentional communication, but zero for naturalistic displays. However, the long-standing mystery had dissipated interest, preventing work from using updated authoritative methods for studying individual differences. With Kenny’s (1994) Social Relations Model, we tested round robin groups in which each participant posed their emotions and later judged the expressions of each other member. The design included emotion inductions to increase expressers’ authentic experience. The resulting effect size, q = .51, r = .43, is larger than previously typical. Implications are discussed for theories on individual emotional skills.
Elfenbein, H. A., Eisenkraft, N., & Ding, W. (2009) Do we know who values us? Dyadic meta-accuracy in the perception of professional relationships, Psychological Science, 20, 1081-1083 (PDF).
What psychological mechanisms lead to dyadic meta-accuracy, the phenomenon whereby people can describe the different ways others perceive them? Kenny and DePaulo (1993) argued that dyadic meta-accuracy exists only because people believe their evaluations will be reciprocated by others. In addition to these known effects, we argue that people are also sensitive to relationship-relevant cues when these cues are managed actively and interpreted selectively. Meta-perceptions from robin groups of MBA students support our hypothesis. For perceptions of professional value, dyadic meta-accuracy exists even after controlling for presumed reciprocity.
Langer, E., Russell, T. & Eisenkraft, N. (2009). Orchestral performance and the footprint of mindfulness. Psychology of Music, 37, 125-136 (PDF).
Two studies were designed to test the hypothesis that actively creating novel distinctions and sonically portraying them during the performance of orchestral music is preferable to attempting to recreate a past performance. The data suggest that orchestral musicians preferred creating music when they were encouraged to mindfully incorporate subtle nuances into their performance. When audience members were played recordings of both types of performance, a significant majority expressed a preference for the performances that were created in a mindful state. Individual attention to novel distinctions and subtle nuances appears to alter the process of creative ensemble performance and lead to music that is more enjoyable to perform and hear.
Elfenbein, H. A., Curhan, J. R., Eisenkraft, N., Shirako, A., & Baccaro, L. (2008). Are some negotiators better than others? Individual differences in bargaining outcomes, Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 1463-1475 (PDF).
The authors address the long-standing mystery of stable individual differences in negotiation performance, on which intuition and conventional wisdom have clashed with inconsistent empirical findings. The present study used the Social Relations Model to examine individual differences directly via consistency in performance across multiple negotiations and to disentangle the roles of both parties within these inherently dyadic interactions. Individual differences explained a substantial 46% of objective performance and 19% of subjective performance in a mixed-motive bargaining exercise. Previous work may have understated the influence of individual differences because conventional research designs require specific traits to be identified and measured. Exploratory analyses of a battery of traits revealed few reliable associations with consistent individual differences in objective performance—except for positive beliefs about negotiation, positive affect, and concern for one’s outcome, each of which predicted better performance. Findings suggest that the field has large untapped potential to explain substantial individual differences. Limitations, areas for future research, and practical implications are discussed.
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