Article

Self-Affirmation Increases Men’s Openness to Women’s Dominance Behaviors

Authors
  • Chiara Trombini
  • Modupe Akinola
  • Hannah Riley Bowles

Abstract

There is growing attention to the importance of factoring men’s experience into theorizing around increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in organizations. Past research has documented that women face stronger penalties than men for displaying dominance behaviors (Williams & Tiedens, 2016). Recent research shows that men perceive negotiations and competition as activities that could threaten their masculinity and social status (Mazei et al., 2021), making them particularly sensitive to women’s dominance displays. We theorize that men experience anxiety when interacting with dominant women­ (i.e., women initiating negotiation or women competing in a masculine contest) which would lead to a lower willingness to work with them. We propose and test a self-affirmation intervention to increase men’s openness to dominant women through a reduction in anxiety. In Study 1, we examine negotiations between MBA students to show that women’s dominance behaviors are associated with men’s heightened anxiety. In Study 2a, we experimentally offer evidence that self-affirmation moderates the effect of women’s dominance on men’s lower willingness to work with them. In Study 2b, we demonstratethat self-affirmation increases men’s openness to dominant women through a reduction in anxiety. In Study 3, we manipulate men’s feelings of anxiety and show that self-affirmation decreases anxiety and increases men’s behavioral collaboration with dominant women. We discuss the potential implications of these findings for our understanding of gender bias in organizations, in particular for work cultures that induce stress and anxiety in men.

Keywords: gender bias, men's anxiety, self-affirmation, organizational behavior, leadership, experiments

How to Cite:

Trombini, C. & Akinola, M. & Riley Bowles, H., (2024) “Self-Affirmation Increases Men’s Openness to Women’s Dominance Behaviors”, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 17(2), 106-129. doi: https://doi.org/10.34891/1a9n-p522

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Published on
15 May 2024
Peer Reviewed