In a recent article appearing in Policy Science Political Scientists Mark McBeth, Donna Lybecker and James Stoutenborough examined the reasons why negotiators might switch between “personal message choice” and “public communication choice.” They describe public communication choice as a message that takes into account how the audience might best receive it.
These scientists found that 53% of negotiators did not switch their communication choice. In other words, more than half of those studied chose to stick with their preferred narrative.
One important factor suggested by the researchers to explain why negotiators did decide to switch away from their preferred narrative is the recognition that “there was a difference between themselves and the wider public.” Age was another factor. Young people were also found to be more likely to switch. Switching narrative also sometimes appeared to be a strategy choice.
The scientists identified a tension that exists when parties decide whether or not to tailor their message to fit the culture of their audience. When making this decision negotiators must weigh the importance and ethics of discussing options in a language that is culturally sensitive to other groups. Changing the message away from personal preference might promote discussion but tailoring the message to an audience might be an attempt to “sell” a preferred option.
Source: McBeth, Mark K., Donna L. Lybecker, James W. Stoutenborough. 2016. “Do stakeholders analyze their audience? The communication switch and stakeholder personal versus public communication choices,” Policy Sciences. doi: 10.1007/s11077-016-9252-2