Gender stereotypes in Negociation and Cooperation

This page is a summary of 2 studies published by The American Psychological Association mentioned in a HBR's article accessible below.



Gender differences in negociation are small to negligible. Larger disparities in outcomes occur when negotiators either have no prior experience or are forced to negotiate, as in a mandated training exercise. Men and women are equally cooperative.



Over and over, we hear that women are poor negotiators—they “settle too easily,” are “too nice,” or are “too cooperative.”

But not so, according to research. Jens Mazei and colleagues recently analyzed more than 100 studies examining whether men and women negotiate different outcomes; they determined that gender differences were small to negligible.


Men have a slight advantage in negotiations when they are advocating exclusively for themselves and when ambiguity about the stakes or opportunities is high.

Larger disparities in outcomes occur when negotiators either have no prior experience or are forced to negotiate, as in a mandated training exercise.

But such situations are atypical, and even when they do arise, statisticians would deem the resulting gender differences to be small.

As for the notion that women are more cooperative than men, 50 years of research by Daniel Balliet and colleagues refutes that and shows that men are equally cooperative, particularly in situations involving a dilemma that pits the interests of an individual against the interests of a group.


Having said that men cooperate better with other men than women cooperate with each other, according to the research, published online by the American Psychological Association in Psychological Bulletin.


Women tend to cooperate more than men when interacting with the opposite-sex, the analysis found. Consistent with a sociocultural perspective, women were more cooperative in mixed-sex social dilemmas. Stereotypes of men and women are more likely to be activated in mixed-sex interactions. To match these stereotypes, women may become more cooperative and men less cooperative. Alternatively, an evolutionary perspective suggests that men may desire to signal social dominance to potential mates, leading to less cooperation by men than women. Also consistent with an evolutionary approach, which assumes that men have evolved specialized mechanisms for same-sex cooperation and greater tolerance for another’s defection, men were more cooperative in same-sex groups, and men became more cooperative over several iterations of the dilemma. These findings were contrary to a sociocultural perspective that predicted greater female same-sex cooperation and women being relatively more cooperative in response to another’s defection. Additionally, the analysis showed no support for either a sociocultural or evolutionary perspective that suggests men would be more cooperative in larger groups. Finally, although sex differences in social behavior were hypothesized from a sociocultural perspective to have changed over the last 50 years, the analysis did not indicate any significant change in sex differences in cooperation during this time.“

Go beyond gender and TEST YOURSELF: