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

  • Jason R. Pierce
  • Leigh Thompson


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.

Keywords: gender, sex differences, negotiations, ethical decision making

How to Cite:

Pierce, J. & Thompson, L., (2018) “Explaining Differences in Men and Women's Use of Unethical Tactics in Negotiations”, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 11(4), 278-297. doi:

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Published on
29 Aug 2018
Peer Reviewed