Why Women Get Lied to in Negotiations

Confidence and perceived competence are key, study finds

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 4, 2014 5:00 PM CDT
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(Newser) – Think women get cheated at the negotiating table? That painful cliché has found new life in a US study of MBA students who, true to form, cheated females more often than males, Jezebel reports. First, researchers at UPenn and UC Berkeley had prospective sellers—both male and female—negotiate with student buyers. Sure enough, the buyers said females were warmer, more incompetent, and more easily deceived. "Warmth … may decrease women's resistance to lies because directly confronting deception is considered impolite," write the study's authors. Another key: People considered less competent appear unlikely to scrutinize lies, one author tells Slate.

The researchers again paired off students—this time with one selling real estate intended for "tasteful," residential purposes, and the other secretly buying it to develop a high-rise instead. Again, female sellers got cheated more often, even if the buyer was female. The study found that buyers would blatantly lie to women, saying something like, "They will be luxury condos," while telling men "I can't tell you" their true purpose, or even admitting the truth with, "I'm not supposed to tell you this, but..." The numbers:

  • Men admitted lying to women 24% of the time, and to men only 3%.
  • Women lied to women 17% of the time, and to men 11%.
An in-depth Atlantic article headlined "The Confidence Gap" says the issue is women's confidence, not ability, while Slate brings it down to stereotypes about what women are "capable of. And until we chip away at those, telling women to try harder won’t get us fair treatment." (See why one writer thinks women are "best" at age 42.)

A woman walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014.
A woman walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014.   (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
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