NEW YORK (MainStreet) - If you are a woman, you have to face many different forms of discrimination both in and out of the workplace. You are also likely lied to much more often, which is the conclusion of new research out of Vanderbilt University.
The study -- due to be published in the peer review journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes -- found that women are common targets for deception, which puts them at a disproportionate disadvantage as compared to men during business negotiations.
Even more surprising, is that men and women were equally likely to lie to women, indicating that women do not benefit anymore by negotiating with their own gender.
"We found that men and women alike were targeting women with more deception than men," said Jessica Kennedy, assistant professor of management at the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management and co-author of the new research, in a press release. "It was interesting that [both] men and women....tried to deceive women in negotiations."
For one of the studies, MBA students held mock real estate negotiations where the buyer was tasked with whether to reveal if his intentions for the property contradicted the seller's wishes. The buyers were untruthful to 22% of female sellers, compared to just 5% of male sellers--or at more than quadruple the rate.
The study also revealed that women negotiators were generally perceived as easier to deceive than men, despite existing social research that has showed that men and women are equally bad at detecting lies--even as women have been found to be better at picking up on unspoken social cues.
"Men and women alike are poor at detecting deception," says Kennedy. "Past work has established that women are better at decoding nonverbal cues than men, though no better at catching a liar."
"I think most negotiations are stereotyped as masculine contexts, and therefore women aren't expected to perform as well there," says Kennedy. "Negotiations are like math tests or tool shop - people expect men to have a psychological advantage. The stereotypes then become self-fulfilling.Women might feel more anxious and less confident and therefore confirm stereotypes that weren't originally true."
Yet negotiators who came across as exhibiting warmth or as being more likable (traits more often associated with women) tended not to be the target of as many lies--even while such negotiators were also considered easier to mislead. As such, Kennedy does not suggest modifying behavior to act more warm and vulnerable just to incite more protective behavior from a negotiator, especially as it has not been studied.
"I'm hesitant to recommend it until we have randomly assigned real people to change their behavior to be more warm and likeable in a face to face, competitive negotiation, and we see a reduction in deception," says Kennedy. "Even if this strategy does work, it really leaves all the power in the hands of the deceiver."
So, besides trying to be more warm and likable, what can women do when it comes to negotiating to avoid being lied to?
Kennedy suggests that women try to convey a manner that defies the gender stereotyping, thereby making women less susceptible to deceptive intent.
"Stereotypes are difficult to disconfirm, but I think we can train women to exhibit characteristics in negotiations that suggest they're not at all easy to mislead," said Kennedy. "If we have women persistently questioning information, asking for verification from multiple sources, writing critical things in contracts and signaling a willingness to retaliate for deception, I think that should help to disconfirm this stereotype."
And what can be done if women are concerned about retribution for coming across too aggressively during a negotiation, such as one for a higher salary?
"One solution to backlash could be for women to get mentors to champion their interests instead of doing so directly themselves [while] another solution could be for women to justify their requests as serving others' interests [such as] their family or their group at work," says Kennedy. "Of course all of this is terribly unfair and the onus should not be on the women. Organizations should look for evidence of pay disparities by gender and take steps to correct them."
--Written by Laura Kiesel for MainStreet