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More assertive women judged negatively

Aug. 11, 2008 at 7:44 PM   |   Comments

BOSTON, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- When people are trying to make a positive impression, they may behave in ways that contradict gender stereotypes, a U.S. study reveals.

Researchers Jared Curhan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Jennifer Overbeck of the University of Southern California 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 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, the researchers said.

The study, published in the journal Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, said men 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.

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