Involving women in decision-making may guarantee compromise


Compromise always occurs when a woman is involved among two decision makers, but hardly ever when the pair of decision makers are men, says an interesting study which could be pertinent to marketers, managers, and consumers alike.

The findings showed that the compromise effect basically emerges in any pair when there is a woman.

However, when two men are choosing together, they actually tend to push away from compromise options and tend to choose extreme options in order to prove their masculinity in the presence of other men, because compromise is consistent with feminine norms, and extremism is a more masculine trait.

For example, if two men are choosing a car and the cars they are considering differ on safety and fuel efficiency — they will either go for the safest car or the one that offers them the most fuel efficiency, but they won’t choose an option that offers a little of both.

“When making decisions together, men take actions that are maximally different from feminine norms, which prioritize moderation, and maximally similar to masculine norms, which prioritize extremity,” said Hristina Nikolova, Assistant Professor at Boston College, in the US.

Womanhood is not precarious and does not need the same level of public defence as manhood. That is why the compromise works effectively in the joint decisions of two female partners.

In addition, men criticized compromise among other men, but is embraced by women.

“Only men judge other men very harshly when they suggest the compromise option to a male partner,” Nikolova pointed out.

It doesn’t happen when a man suggests the compromise option to a female partner or when women suggest the compromise option so it’s really specific to men dealing with other men, the researchers explained.

Conversely, individuals and mixed-gender and female-female pairs will likely go for the middle option since it seems reasonable and is easily justified, the researcher said.

“In contrast to men, women act the same together as they would alone because they don’t need to prove anything in front of other women,” Nikolova added.

The study examines how joint decision-making contexts change consumer’s preferences for the compromise option and suggests that retailers and marketers should be aware of the gender composition of the joint decision-making pairs they might be targeting.

The decisions we make in pairs may be very different than those we make alone, depending on who we make them with, the researchers noted in the work published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

For the study, the team conducted four experiments with 1,204 students at two US universities, and a fifth experiment using 673 online participants.