Working Papers

Gender Bias in Negotiators’ Ethical Decision Making


What is the relationship between gender and the likelihood of being deceived in negotiations? In strategic interactions, the decision to deceive is based in part on the expected consequences (Gneezy, 2005). Because gender stereotypes suggest that women are more easily misled than men, the expected consequences of deception were predicted to be more positive with negotiators described in stereotypically feminine as opposed to masculine terms. Studies 1A and 1B confirmed that gender stereotypes affect the expected consequences of deception. An archival analysis of MBA classroom data (N = 298) was then conducted to explore the implications of this relationship in a naturalistic setting. Consistent with gender stereotypes, female negotiators were deceived more frequently than male negotiators, though female negotiators perceived no less honesty in their counterparts than did male negotiators. Economic and psychological consequences of deception were also examined, including agreement rates, sale price, and negotiator subjective experience. When believed by their target, lies facilitated deal making. However, psychologically, lying impaired both negotiators’ subjective experience by reducing perceptions of negotiator honesty. By linking gender stereotypes to the expected and actual consequences of deception, the current research extends our understanding of the role of gender in strategic interactions. Finally, how gender shapes experiences in the MBA classroom is discussed.