One Reason Women Fare Worse in Negotiations? People Lie to Them.
“When my 1998 Volvo finally broke down last year, my first worry was not about being carless, but about my impending trip to a car repair shop. It’s a common stereotype that women don’t know much about cars, and while there are plenty of car-savvy women, I’m not one of them. I knew that when the shop told me about all the costly new parts I needed, I’d have no way of evaluating whether they were being straight with me or taking me for a ride. And new research supports my fear: The stereotype that women are incompetent makes people more likely to lie to them during negotiations.
Researchers at the University of California–Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania asked MBA students to participate in role-plays of face-to-face negotiations. … ‘We found that in the role-play, people were significantly more likely to blatantly lie to women,’ says Laura Kray, the lead author of the study. … After the negotiation, students were asked to disclose whether they lied. Both men and women reported lying to women more often. Twenty-four percent of men said they lied to a female partner, while only 3 percent of men said they lied to a male partner. Women also lied to other women (17 percent), but they lied to men as well (11 percent). Perhaps even more telling: People were more likely to let men in on secrets. ‘Men were more likely to be given preferential treatment,’ says Kray. In several instances, buyer’s agents revealed their client’s true intentions to men saying, ‘I’m not supposed to tell you this, but …’ This sort of privileged information was never offered to women.
Kray and her colleagues also asked students to rate the hypothetical buyers’ characteristics and found that participants perceived women as less competent than men (or a hypothetical person whose gender was not revealed). ‘When people perceive someone as low in competence and easily misled, they assume the person will not scrutinize lies, and that you can get away with [lying],’ says Kray. Participants were asked to report how likely they thought other people would be to take advantage of a male or female buyer, and the participants correctly reported that people would lower their ethical standards when dealing with women. ‘People are aware of stereotypes, and use them to their advantage when they’re motivated to do so,’ Kray says.”