How men’s ne­go­ti­at­ing styles changed after Trump’s win.

The Washington Post Sunday - - BUSINESS - BY JENA MCGRE­GOR jena.mcgre­gor@wash­post.com

Whar­ton as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor Corinne Low didn’t set out to test the ef­fect that Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion might have on men’s and women’s ne­go­ti­at­ing pat­terns last year. A gen­der and fam­ily econ­o­mist, she was look­ing more broadly into gen­der dif­fer­ences in com­mu­ni­ca­tion styles, us­ing ex­per­i­ments to look at how men and women ne­go­ti­ate with one an­other in a lab at Whar­ton, the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia’s busi­ness school.

But after the Novem­ber elec­tion, she no­ticed some­thing in­ter­est­ing in her data. Com­par­ing the re­sults from lab tests she ran dur­ing early and late October with tests she ran the week after the elec­tion, she no­ticed a change she called “ex­tremely stark:” On the whole, ne­go­ti­at­ing part­ners were more ad­ver­sar­ial in their chat-based com­mu­ni­ca­tion threads. In par­tic­u­lar, men were more ag­gres­sive when they ne­go­ti­ated with coun­ter­parts they knew they were fe­male, us­ing hard­ball tac­tics more of­ten.

“We didn’t know what to ex­pect when we looked at the data after the elec­tion,” Low said in an in­ter­view. “But the data was scream­ing at us that there was an ef­fect.”

In a pa­per called “Trump­ing Norms,” set to be pub­lished in the May is­sue of “Amer­i­can Eco­nom­ics Re­view: Pa­pers and Pro­ceed­ings,” Low and her co-au­thor, Whar­ton doc­toral stu­dent Jen­nie Huang, used a sim­ple game called the “Bat­tle of the Sexes” that gives pairs of par­tic­i­pants $20 to split be­tween them. Only two splits are avail­able: One per­son can get $15 and the other can get $5, or vice versa. If they can’t agree, both get zero.

The re­searchers as­signed, on a ran­dom ba­sis, whom the par­tic­i­pants were paired with and whether they knew the gen­der of their ne­go­ti­at­ing part­ner. In about half the ne­go­ti­a­tions, they used an on­line chat tool so their ne­go­ti­a­tion tac­tics could be coded as ag­gres­sive or co­op­er­a­tive. The October ses­sions had 232 sub­jects and the Novem­ber ones had 154, with par­tic­i­pants go­ing through mul­ti­ple rounds of ne­go­ti­at­ing, lead­ing to 772 chat con­ver­sa­tions that the study ob­served.

What they found: On the whole, the in­ter­ac­tions were more ag­gres­sive after the elec­tion, with more peo­ple start­ing out by push­ing for the $15 for them­selves. (The re­searchers hired out­side ob­servers who were not in­flu­enced by things like gen­der to code the level of ag­gres­sion in the con­ver­sa­tion.) Th­ese more hard­ball tac­tics even led to lower effectiveness: More pairs “mis­matched” their ne­go­ti­a­tions, re­sult­ing in a sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant drop in the amount of money the ne­go­tia­tors took home in the post-elec­tion sam­ple.

“Not only was the com­mu­ni­ca­tion more ag­gres­sive, it was also less ef­fec­tive,” she said.

Even more strik­ing, Low said, were the re­sults when com­par­ing how men ne­go­ti­ated with known fe­male part­ners after the elec­tion. Be­fore the elec­tion, male par­tic­i­pants were less likely to en­gage in tough talk or hard­ball tac­tics when they knew they were ne­go­ti­at­ing with women than with men, “dis­play­ing what could be clas­si­fied as ‘chivalry’ to­ward fe­male part­ners,” Low wrote in her pa­per.

But after the elec­tion, ag­gres­sive tac­tics to­ward known fe­male coun­ter­parts surged. The num­ber of men who used a “hard com­mit­ment” ne­go­ti­a­tion strat­egy against fe­male part­ners — say­ing they were tak­ing $15, take it or leave it — went up by 140 per­cent from the pre-elec­tion sam­ple. “That’s a huge ef­fect size in lab­o­ra­tory lit­er­a­ture,” Low said. “We’ve never seen any­thing like that.”

Low ac­knowl­edges that the study was new in October, so she doesn’t have older data to com­pare her re­sults with say, last year; nor does she have data that il­lus­trate whether the change re­flects a long-term trend.

“Was this just im­me­di­ately after the elec­tion, peo­ple were sort of worked up and it’s go­ing to go away?” she said. “Or is it some­thing that’s shifted and is go­ing to last the en­tire pres­i­dency? Those are new ques­tions we don’t have an­swers to.”

Other stud­ies, she noted, have shown that macro-po­lit­i­cal events do have ef­fects on peo­ple’s be­hav­ior, though Low be­lieves the size of her find­ings is notable. She also noted in the pa­per that there was “a par­tic­u­lar dis­tur­bance on Penn’s cam­pus” im­me­di­ately after the elec­tion. A cam­pus news­pa­per re­ported that black fresh­man at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia “had been added to a racist so­cial me­dia group with shock­ingly racist words and images,” she wrote. “Thus, we can­not rule out that our re­sults are partly driven by th­ese spe­cific on-cam­pus events, in ad­di­tion to the broader na­tional con­text.”

Low and her co-au­thor also ex­am­ined whether the pop­u­la­tion of lab par­tic­i­pants might have shifted in some way. While there are some dif­fer­ences in de­mo­graphic groups from the two time pe­ri­ods, the re­searchers re­stricted the pop­u­la­tion by fac­tors such as race or po­lit­i­cal party and ex­am­ined matched sam­ple re­sults to test for vari­a­tions. Even after do­ing that, the re­sults were sta­ble, she said.

“It’s not some­thing we can 100 per­cent rule out, but it re­ally sug­gests to us that it’s peo­ple’s be­hav­ior that’s chang­ing, rather than that it’s the peo­ple who are chang­ing,” she said.

Asked whether she be­lieves Trump, who has cast him­self as an ag­gres­sive deal­maker and whose treat­ment of or re­marks about women be­came a ma­jor cam­paign is­sue, was the cause for the change, Low was cau­tious. “I’m an econ­o­mist, so I’m go­ing to stick in my lane,” she said. “We call the pa­per ‘Trump­ing Norms.’ We find it sug­ges­tive that there was some kind of a norm shift . . . . That sug­gests who the leader is could mat­ter.”

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