A study by a U.C. Berkeley professor and two co-authors shows that women gain by flirting during negotiations. But the same didn't hold true for men.
The study was titled, “Feminine Charm: An Experimental Analysis of its Costs and Benefits in Negotiations," by lead author Laura Kray, a professor at the Haas School of Business
The research defined flirtation as female friendliness, or "feminine charm," without overt sexual advances or serious intent.
One experiment asked subjects to imagine they were selling a car for $1,200 and negotiating with one of two potential buyers: "serious Sue" or "playful Sue."
"Next, the subjects read one of two scenarios," according to a statement from the school. "The first group meets Sue, who shakes hands when she meets the seller, smiles, and says, 'It’s a pleasure to meet you,' and then 'What’s your best price?' in a serious tone.
"The second group reads an alternate scenario in which Sue greets the seller by smiling warmly, looking the seller up and down, touching the seller’s arm, and saying, “You’re even more charming than over email,” followed by a playful wink and asking, “What’s your best price?”
Male sellers offered to knock off $100 of the price for "playful Sue" but not for "serious Sue," the study found. Female buyers, however, were unmoved.
“Women are uniquely confronted with a tradeoff in terms of being perceived as strong versus warm," Kray said in a comment quoted by the Haas School. "Using feminine charm in negotiation is a technique that combines both.”
The study appears in the October issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. It is co-authored by Haas Ph.D. alum Connson Locke of the London School of Economics and Alex B. Van Zant, a Haas Ph.D. student.
Any surprises here? Is flirting fair?