Flirting Helps Women Negotiate, UC Study Finds

A study by a UC Berkeley professor and two associates found that women who turn on the feminine charm in negotiations are more successful. Sorry, men, but males who flirt didn't see any gains, the researchers found.

In findings that could add new fuel to gender wars, a study by a U.C. Berkeley professor and two co-authors shows that women who flirt in negotiations are more effective than those who don't. The same didn't hold true for men.

Flirting by women was perceived as a sign of confidence, according to the study whose lead author is Haas School of Business Professor Laura Kray, “Feminine Charm: An Experimental Analysis of its Costs and Benefits in Negotiations." 

The kind of flirtation that produced successful results consists not of overt sexual advances but genuine female friendliness, or "feminine charm," without serious intent, the study found.

In one experiment, researchers asked women to report the degree of social charm they used in their negotiations and then asked their partners to rate the women's effectiveness. Those rated more effective were those who said they used more social charm.

At the same time, men who employed more charm were not rated higher.

A second experiment asked subjects to imagine they were selling a car for $1,200 and then engaging in negotiations with a potential buyer: either "serious Sue" or "playful Sue."

"Next, the subjects read one of two scenarios about a potential buyer named Sue," according to a statement issued by the school. "The first group meets Sue, who shakes hands when she meets the seller, smiles, and says, 'It’s a pleasure to meet you,' and then 'What’s your best price?' in a serious tone.

"The second group reads an alternate scenario in which Sue greets the seller by smiling warmly, looking the seller up and down, touching the seller’s arm, and saying, “You’re even more charming than over email,” followed by a playful wink and asking, “What’s your best price?”

Male sellers offered to knock off $100 of the price for "playful Sue" but not for "serious Sue," the study found. Female buyers, however, were unmoved.

“Women are uniquely confronted with a tradeoff in terms of being perceived as strong versus warm," Kray said in a comment quoted by the Haas School. "Using feminine charm in negotiation is a technique that combines both.”

The study appears in the October issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. It is co-authored by Haas Ph.D. alum Connson Locke of the London School of Economics and Alex B. Van Zant, a Haas Ph.D. student.


Don't miss any news from Patch. Follow us on Twitter | Like us on Facebook | Sign up for our daily newsletter

Ptown October 14, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Really, it took a study to figure this out. Hopefully this study was funded by private $.
Val Richman October 14, 2012 at 07:10 PM
If it's not actually flirting but "female charm or friendliness" then WHY oh WHY use "flirting" in the subject line????
Betty Harrison October 14, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Can I give that a "thumbs up" Val? Jeesch! Maybe we should start talking about our clothes, too... wouldn't want to be "provocative"...
Darris October 15, 2012 at 05:06 AM
"Sue greets the seller by smiling warmly, looking the seller up and down, touching the seller’s arm, and saying, “You’re even more charming than over email,” followed by a playful wink . . . " I dunno Val, sounds like flirting to me. I'm a gregarious, friendly gal but I would NEVER look anyone up and down, say something that can be so easily misinterpreted, wink, and then try and get a better deal. At best it's a clumsy stab at flirtation, at worst it's just cheap manipulation.
nina zee October 15, 2012 at 05:12 PM
and this is relevant to petaluma patch exactly.... how?
Sheri Cardo October 15, 2012 at 06:29 PM
"Men roll over in negotiations with charming women," could just as easily have been the title of this article. Geez ...
mikeg55 October 15, 2012 at 09:56 PM
It helps if they are HOT too!
Bill Fishman October 16, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Sheri is right! Men take it as a personal favor or gesture when a woman does ANYTHING that arouses any sort of sensory reaction in us, be it a touch, close physical proximity, laughing at our jokes, wearing revealing clothing -- a whole range of things that we can chalk up to "womanly wiles". But that should not make us powerless in the negotiation process. It reminds me of a great line that a former professor of mine once used: "A woman does not have the power to emasculate a man. He has to hand her his balls in a Dixie Cup."
Sheri Cardo October 16, 2012 at 06:29 PM
"Sheri is right!" I love the sound of that, Bill! Thanks for weighing in. It's good to agree on something. ;)


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something