Women compromise, men don’t while taking decisions

New Delhi: A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research which finds 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.

“When men are in the presence of other men, they feel the need to prove their masculinity,” says co-researcher Hristina Nikolova, the Coughlin Sesquicentennial Assistant Professor of Marketing with the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. “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’s why both male partners tend to prefer an extreme option when making decisions together.”

Titled “Men and the Middle: Gender Differences in Dyadic Compromise Effects” and published in the Journal of Consumer Research, the study was co-authored by Cait Lamberton, Associate Professor of Marketing with the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.

While previous research has examined the compromise effect – the tendency to choose the middle, compromise option in a choice set – using single individuals, this is the first research examining how joint decision-making contexts change consumers” preferences for the compromise option.
Nikolova and Lamberton conducted four experiments with 1,204 students at two U.S 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.

According to the study: “When making decisions together, men take actions that are maximally different from feminine norms, which prioritize moderation, and maximally similar to masculine norms, which prioritize extremity. Furthermore, because a female presence makes the masculinity of men in male-female dyads obvious, in these pairings we observe compromise behaviour consistent with that of individual decision-makers and female-female dyads.”

“In contrast to men,” says Nikolova, “women act the same together as they would alone because they don’t need to prove anything in front of other women. Womanhood is not precarious and does not need the same level of public defence as manhood. That’s why we observe the compromise effect in the joint decisions of two female partners.”

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