Opinion article in de Volkskrant on Compromises in political negotiations

On May 25, de Volkskrant, a well-read newspaper with national circulation, published an op-ed by Caspar, about compromises in political negotiations. Currently, Dutch political parties are engaged in a difficult process of coalition exploration. Whether or not these negotiations will lead to a succesful government, depends on the ability of political parties to find common ground. This article posits that it is better to search for a compromise on every theme (climate, immigration, etc.) rather than opt for a strategy of extremes in which every party gets a big win on some themes (say climate) and suffers big sacrifices on others (say immigration). Why are these compromise outcomes more sustainable than trade-off outcomes? This is is related to the well-known compromise effect, which is one of the most robust behavioral economics findings and has been replicated in all sorts of contexts. The source of this effect lies in loss aversion and taboo trade off aversion: ultimately, in a strategy of extremes, the gains on one theme do not compensate for the losses felt on others, and the trade-off itself feels taboo (see earlier work on this by BEHAVE). Especially in polarized environments and in cases where deep values and moral dilemmas are at stake and decisions are perceived as very difficult, loss aversion and taboo trade off aversion are deeply felt and hence compromises carry the day. A nice way to show the relevance of our work to the wider community!