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When and Why Do Men Negotiate Assertively? It Depends on Threats to Their Masculinity and the Negotiation Topic

We elucidate when and why men negotiate assertively. Consistent with recent theorizing, a masculinity threat should increase men’s willingness to negotiate assertively in salary negotiations, which are viewed as masculine, but not in negotiations about flexible working hours, which are not viewed as masculine. In a preregistered laboratory study (N = 390), men were either threatened in terms of their masculinity or not, and, subsequently, they negotiated either their salary or flexible working hours. Threatened men (relative to non-threatened men) had more ambitious goals, intended to make more assertive offers, and actually made more assertive offers, but only when negotiating salary. Moreover, intended first offers mediated the effect of masculinity threats on actual first offers, but only when the negotiation was about salary. The insight that men show heightened assertiveness only when threatened and negotiating certain topics helps to explain why gender differences in negotiation depend on the specific situation.

Jens Mazei
TU Dortmund University

Julia Bear
Stony Brook University
United States

Joachim Hüffmeier
TU Dortmund University


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