Theses Doctoral

Gender Identity Threat in Same and Mixed-Gender Negotiations: Speech Accommodation and Relational Outcomes

Aguilar, Lauren Janine

In negotiation it is important to claim the most value, but also to establish positive regard in the social relationship. It may be particularly difficult for women to meet both these instrumental and relational demands, as negative stereotypes about women convey that masculine qualities are more beneficial than feminine qualities in negotiation (Kray & Thompson, 2005). When stereotypes about individuals are made salient in evaluative contexts this can induce identity threat--the apprehension about being judged on the basis of stereotypes (Steele & Aronson, 1995). The current studies examine how identity threat affects speech communication processes, relational connection, and instrumental outcomes in negotiations. In particular, the studies examine how women and men use speech accommodation in negotiations, as nonconscious speech accommodation is associated with affiliation and feelings of social connection (Aguilar, Downey, Krauss, Pardo, & Bolger, 2011). In two studies I found that heightened gender-based identity threat affected speech accommodation in dyadic negotiations. Within same-gender dyads (Study 1) dispositional sensitivity to gender-based rejection in traditionally male settings (RS-gender) affected speech accommodation under identity threat (London, Romero-Canyas, Downey, Rattan & Tyson, 2011). Presumably, women higher in RS-gender, who are concerned about being judged on the basis of gender in social-evaluative situations, were in a heightened threat state when faced with an explicit reminder about gender stereotypes in negotiation. When gender identity threat was explicitly neutralized, there were no differences in actors' or partners' speech accommodation based on RS-gender. When explicitly exposed to gender identity threat, women higher in RS-gender in showed less speech accommodation, while women lower in RS-gender use more speech accommodation. Also, partners of women higher in RS-gender exhibited more speech accommodation than partners of women lower in RS-gender under threat. Within mixed-gender dyads (Study 2) when gender identity threat was explicitly neutralized, men accommodated marginally less than women; however when women were exposed explicitly to gender-based identity threat, males increased speech accommodation to female negotiation partners. Females did not show differential speech accommodation between the threat and no threat conditions, and specifically, did not reciprocate male partners' increased accommodation while under threat. Higher levels of speech accommodation were paralleled by higher levels of partner perceived social connection, although the links between speech accommodation and connection differed across same and mixed-gender dyads. Identity threat also influenced interpersonal impressions and undercut women's instrumental outcomes in mixed-gender dyads. I argue that identity threat can affect communication processes in ways that go unnoticed and may affect women's advancement in traditionally male domains such as negotiation.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Downey, Geraldine
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 6, 2012