When coding negotiation transcripts for the purposes of the pilot study, negotiators within each dyad were often found to use frames to a similar extent at the beginning of the negotiation. Similar use of initial conflict frames, produces difficulties in detecting frame convergence. Research confirms that convergence is more likely when initial frames differ between disputants (Pinkley & Northcraft, 1994). To increase the likelihood of detecting frame shifts, the current study attempted to manipulate the types of initial frames that disputants adopted.
One way in which initial frames can be manipulated is to prescribe the motivational orientation of each of the parties at the beginning of the negotiation. The decision to manipulate initial frames in this way draws upon the well-established finding that motivational orientation influences negotiation behaviour and outcomes in predictable ways (Deutsch, 1973; Olekalns & Smith, 1998; Putnam, 1990). Research indicates that, when disputants are instructed to maximise joint gain instead of individual gain, they tend to be more cooperative in their behaviours (Putnam, 1990). Conversely, when instructed to maximise individual as opposed to joint gain, more competitive behaviour results. Changing the motivational orientation changes the way in which information is framed in such a way that, for example, negotiators who are instructed to maximise joint as opposed to individual gain are likely to frame information more competitively. Negotiators motivated in this way act to increase their share of available resources relative to the other party. The competitively-oriented frames such as the competitive aspiration frame and the competitive outcome frame may underpin these behaviours. Thus, to promote differences in the types of initial frames adopted, the current research sought to manipulate disputants' initial motivational orientation.
To investigate frame convergence, pairs of negotiators in one of the conditions in this study received opposing motivational orientations: one negotiator received a cooperative motivation and the other received a competitive motivation - termed the mixed dyad condition. Two other conditions were included in the design: one in which both parties were cooperatively motivated (cooperative dyad condition) and one in which both parties were competitively motivated (competitive dyad condition). The two same motivation conditions were included not only to provide a controlled comparison for the mixed dyad condition, but also to enhance the possibility of detecting nonconvergent patterns of shifts in frame use. The broader aims in this study were threefold: The first was to determine the types of frames that were more likely to be used by negotiators in each of the three motivational orientation conditions; the second aim was to determine whether patterns of frame shift could be associated with any of the three conditions, and the third aim was to determine whether patterns in the use of frames predicted negotiated outcomes.
The frames in the typology could be divided into two broad classes: a cooperatively-oriented and a competitively-oriented class. Three frames were characterised as being more cooperatively-oriented frames: the cooperative aspiration, cooperative outcome and inclusive process frames. At the other end of the respective dimensions, three frames were characterised as being more competitive: competitive aspiration, competitive outcome and the non-inclusive process frames. In general, more cooperatively-oriented frames are likely to be cognitive precursors to the expression of more cooperative behaviours, and more competitively-oriented frames are likely to be cognitive precursors to more competitive behaviours. Other research was utilised to derive predictions about the two remaining frames - the substantive issues and the power/rights-based justification frames.