Looking to strike a deal? Make sure a woman is involved in the negotiations as a new study has found that compromise always occurs among two decision makers when a female is included.
The findings could be relevant to marketers, managers, and consumers, researchers said.
“When men are in the presence of other men, they feel the need to prove their masculinity,” said Hristina Nikolova from Carroll School of Management in the US.
“Both tend to push away from the compromise option because the compromise option is consistent with feminine norms. On the other hand, extremism is a more masculine trait so that is why both male partners tend to prefer an extreme option when making decisions together,” said Nikolova.
Researchers found that compromise always occurs among two decision makers when a woman is involved (female-female pairs or mixed gender pairs), but hardly ever when the pair of decision makers are men.
“The decisions we make in pairs may be very different than those we make alone, depending on who we make them with,” researchers said.
“Classic compromise effects, also known as the ‘goldilocks effect’ or ‘extremeness aversion,’ may not emerge in all joint consumption decisions,” they said.
Researchers conducted four experiments with 1,204 students at two US universities, and a fifth experiment using 673 online participants.
The studies involved different pairs of a man and woman, two women, and two men making decisions on such things as buying printers, toothpaste, flashlights, tires, hotels, headphones, different sizes and shapes of grills, what prizes to seek in a lottery, and whether to buy risky or safe stocks with corresponding high and low returns.
“No matter what the product is, we see the same effects. The compromise effect basically emerges in any pair when there is a woman,” said Nikolova.
Researchers found that when men choose together, they actually tend to push away from the compromise option and select one of the extreme option.
“Say two men are choosing a car and the cars they are considering differ on safety and fuel efficiency – they will either go for the safest car or the one that offers them the most fuel efficiency, but they will not choose an option that offers a little of both,” said Nikolova.
In contrast, individuals and mixed-gender and female-female pairs will likely go for the middle option since it seems reasonable and is easily justified, researchers said.
When making decisions together, men take actions that are maximally different from feminine norms, which prioritise moderation, and maximally similar to masculine norms, which prioritise extremity, the study found.
“In contrast to men, women act the same together as they would alone because they do not need to prove anything in front of other women,” said Nikolova.
The findings were published in the Journal of Consumer Research.