Factors Affecting Entrapment Bias: Justification Needs, Face Concerns and Personal Networks

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This study explores the link between the entrapment bias and the concept of face (self- and other-positive) and internal and external justification processes. It examines how face-saving concerns and justification needs moderate the entrapment bias in accountability condition (i.e., presence of constituencies and reporting requirements). In addition, this research examines whether the size and influence of personal networks is associated with face-saving behaviors that, in turn, affect entrapment. The research also explores whether overall face concerns have an effect on internal and external self-justification. Finally, the study explored messages used by individuals in a scenario potentially leading to entrapment.

Respondents in the study were 236 undergraduate students majoring in communication enrolled in a large East Coast university. Study participants were assigned to one of the four conditions: (1) constituency, reporting; (2) constituency, no reporting; (3) no constituency; reporting; (4) no constituency; no reporting.

The current investigation did not support the findings from previous studies that suggest that justification processes and face concerns lead to entrapment. This study found that only internal self-justification and other-positive face concerns are related to entrapment, but instead of contributing to entrapment, these aspects prevent individuals from becoming entrapped. Personal networks were demonstrated to have positive effect on both self- and other-positive face concerns, providing empirical support for the value of using personal networks as a predictor of face goals. However, personal networks did not contribute to entrapment. Finally, the study examined messages used by individuals in a situation leading to entrapment, suggesting that when individuals try to explain their behavior, they tend to use causal accounts.

Overall, this study has made a contribution to the field of communication by identifying processes and conditions (e.g., concern for other-positive face, internal self-justification, reporting requirement, no direct observation by constituency, keeping clear record of performance success or failure) that may prevent entrapment bias from occurring. These processes and conditions could potentially improve the outcomes of negotiation with the use of effective communication strategies.