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Women are told more ‘blatant lies’ in negotiations than men, research finds

Led into more deals under false pretences because of lower expected competence levels

6 October 2014

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Women in business negotiations experience higher levels of deliberate deceit than men, according to new research.

It found that women are typically told more "blatant lies" than men, and men are provided with more honest responses than women.

It suggests that women's greater propensity to being deceived in negotiations leads them into more deals under false pretences than men.

"We found that men and women alike were targeting women with more deception than men," said Jessica Kennedy, assistant professor of management at Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management and co-author of the research.

The study suggests that women are perceived to be easy deception targets because they are expected to have lower competence than men. Consequently, standards of propriety slip as the fear of being caught dissipates.

To combat this form of discrimination, Kennedy said women should demonstrate different characteristics in negotiations.

"Stereotypes are difficult to disconfirm, but I think we can train women to exhibit characteristics in negotiations that suggest they're not at all easy to mislead," said Kennedy.

"If we have women persistently questioning information, asking for verification from multiple sources, writing critical things in contracts and signalling a willingness to retaliate to deception, I think that should help to disconfirm this stereotype."

Whether the gender stereotype of women being easier to mislead is accurate is an open question, Kennedy said.

"Men and women alike are poor at detecting deception," she said. "Past work has established that women are better at decoding non-verbal cues than men, though no better at catching a liar."

The research found that low expectations for a negotiator's competence drove deceptive intent.

Perceptions of 'warmth' or likability reduced deceptive intent, even though warm negotiators were perceived as easier to mislead.

"These findings suggest that appearing incompetent puts negotiators at greater risk of opportunistic deception than does appearing nice," the paper says.

The research paper 'Not competent enough to know the difference? Gender stereotypes about women's ease of being misled predict negotiator deception' is scheduled for publication in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.



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