Curhan's research on the social psychology of conflict and negotiation has progressed through three distinct phases. His early work at Harvard University, funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation, examined the development of interpersonal negotiation skills among children (Curhan, 1999). Building upon existing developmental theory (Selman & Schultz, 1990), and inspired by principles espoused in the international bestseller, Getting to YES
(Fisher, Ury, & Patton, 1991), Curhan's approach ultimately led to the publication of a negotiation textbook, Young Negotiators
(Curhan, 1998). Curhan's book has since been translated into Spanish, Hebrew, and Arabic, and used to train more than 35,000 children across the United States and abroad.
While at Stanford University, Curhan's research identified a critical disconnect between objective outcomes (i.e., explicit terms of an agreement) and "subjective value" (i.e., feelings and perceptions about the negotiation). For example, Curhan, Neale, & Ross (2004) found that negotiators' preferences change from moment to moment, in accordance with dissonance theory (Festinger, 1957) and reactance theory (Brehm, 1966). Thus two negotiators having reached an identical instrumental outcome might value the specific terms differently, depending upon the pattern of offers made and received during the negotiation. In another line of his research, Curhan explored the differential impact of cultural norms on instrumental "efficiency" (or Pareto optimality) versus relational satisfaction
(Curhan, Neale, Ross, & Rosencranz-Engelmann, 2008).
At MIT, Curhan developed the Subjective Value Inventory (SVI)
, a research instrument used to measure feelings and perceptions concerning the instrumental outcome, the process, the self, and the relationship in negotiations (Curhan, Elfenbein, & Xu, 2006).
Curhan's current research, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, uses the SVI to explore precursors, processes, and long-term consequences of subjective value.
In so doing, Curhan is advocating a scientific approach to the study of subjective value, whereby social and emotional outcomes can be studied with the same level of precision by which the instrumental or tangible aspects of negotiation have been studied for decades.
To download copies of representative publications, see Curhan's Publications.
To download copies of working papers, see Curhan's SSRN Site.
For a complete list of publications and working papers, see Curhan's CV