Explaining Differences in Men and Women's Use of Unethical Tactics in Negotiations

Jason R. Pierce*, Leigh Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Emerging evidence suggests that competitiveness and empathy explain men's greater willingness to use unethical tactics in negotiations. We tested whether and how robustly they do with three distinct studies, run with three distinct populations. Simultaneous mediation analyses generally, but not completely, confirmed our expectations. In Study 1, only competitiveness mediated sex differences in unethical negotiation tactics among Chilean business students. Although empathy also explained willingness to use unethical negotiation tactics, the Chilean men and women did not differ in this regard. In Study 2, competitiveness and empathy both mediated sex differences in American business students’ intentions to lie to a client, but competitiveness explained greater variance. In Study 3, both factors explained sex differences in lying to bargaining partners for real stakes by working-age Americans. Our findings suggest that competitiveness and empathy each explain sex differences in willingness to use unethical tactics, but the former does so more consistently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-297
Number of pages20
JournalNegotiation and Conflict Management Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • ethical decision making
  • gender
  • negotiations
  • sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Strategy and Management


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