Gender stereotypes contradicted when negotiating

August 7, 2008

A common gender stereotype assumes that men are more aggressive and women are more emotional. In negotiation, men are assumed to be more assertive and women better at fostering relationships. However, a new study published in Negotiation and Conflict Management Research reveals that when people are trying to make a positive impression, they may behave in ways that contradict gender stereotypes.

Jared Curhan of MIT's Sloan School of Management and Jennifer Overbeck of the University of Southern California 's Marshall School of Business assigned 190 MBA students to same-sex groups to represent either a high-status recruiter or a low-status job candidate engaged in a standard employment negotiation simulation. Half of the participants were offered an additional cash incentive to make a positive impression on their negotiation counterparts.

When incentivized to make a positive impression on their counterparts, men and women in the high-status role acted in ways that contradicted gender stereotypes. Women negotiated more aggressively and men negotiated in a more appeasing manner. Being motivated to make a positive impression may have cued negotiators to counter whatever negative tendencies they believe others see in them and to thus display a contrasting demeanor.

Women who are motivated to make a positive impression, perhaps in an effort to refute the stereotype that they are weak or ineffective negotiators, may advocate more strongly for their own interests. In contrast, men who are motivated to make a positive impression, perhaps in an effort to refute the stereotype that they are overly aggressive, may yield to the demands of the other side.

The success of the strategies was mixed. Men's strategy of behaving in a more conciliatory fashion apparently succeeded in producing a positive impression in the counterpart's eyes. However, the women's strategy of behaving more assertively failed to create a more positive impression. Instead, women who behaved more assertively, were judged more negatively.

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Measuring the effect of gender-based aid

Related Stories

Measuring the effect of gender-based aid

September 18, 2015

Increasing women's participation in politics has been one of the biggest focus areas in Norwegian gender-based aid in recent years. In a number of countries in Africa, more than 30 per cent of the members of parliament are ...

Healthy humans make nice homes for viruses

September 16, 2014

The same viruses that make us sick can take up residence in and on the human body without provoking a sneeze, cough or other troublesome symptom, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. ...

Recommended for you

From a very old skeleton, new insights on ancient migrations

October 9, 2015

Three years ago, a group of researchers found a cave in Ethiopia with a secret: it held the 4,500-year-old remains of a man, with his head resting on a rock pillow, his hands folded under his face, and stone flake tools surrounding ...

Mexican site yields new details of sacrifice of Spaniards

October 9, 2015

It was one of the worst defeats in one of history's most dramatic conquests: Only a year after Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, hundreds of people in a Spanish-led convey were captured, sacrificed and apparently eaten.

Who you gonna trust? How power affects our faith in others

October 6, 2015

One of the ongoing themes of the current presidential campaign is that Americans are becoming increasingly distrustful of those who walk the corridors of power – Exhibit A being the Republican presidential primary, in which ...

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Aug 07, 2008
Sad truth.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.