Feeling Competitiveness or Empathy Towards Negotiation Counterparts Mitigates Sex Differences in Lying

Jason R. Pierce*, Leigh Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Men typically express more willingness than women to perpetrate fraudulent acts like lying in negotiations. However, women express just as much willingness in some cases. We develop and test a theory to explain these mixed findings. Specifically, we hypothesize that situational cues that bring about competitive or empathic feelings mitigate sex differences in lying to negotiation counterparts. Results from four experiments confirm our hypotheses. Experiment 1 showed that men and women express equal willingness to lie when negotiating with counterparts toward whom they felt either great competitiveness or empathy. Experiment 2 extended these results by confirming that men only express more willingness to lie absent competitive or empathic feelings towards a counterpart. Experiments 3 and 4 demonstrated that inducing competitive or empathic feelings toward a counterpart eliminated sex differences in lying by leading women to lie more and men to lie less, respectively. Overall, our results suggest that the extent to which negotiators experience competitive or empathic feelings play important roles in whether sex differences in lying in negotiations emerge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-87
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Competitiveness
  • Empathy
  • Lying
  • Negotiation
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law


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