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IACM 2023

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

Research shows that men perceive negotiations as activities that could threaten their masculinity and social status, making them sensitive to women’s dominance displays. We theorize that men experience anxiety when interacting with dominant women which lowers their willingness to work collaboratively. We propose a self-affirmation intervention to increase men’s openness to dominant women. In Study 1, we examined negotiations between MBA students to show that women’s dominance is associated with men’s feelings of anxiety. In Study 2, we show that self-affirmation moderates the effect of women’s dominance on men’s lower willingness to work with them. In Study 3, we show that self-affirmation increases men’s openness to dominant women through a reduction in anxiety. In Study 4, we manipulate men’s feelings of anxiety and show that self-affirmation decreases anxiety and increases men’s collaboration with dominant women. We discuss the implications of these findings for our understanding of gender bias in organizations.

Chiara Trombini
Luiss Business School

Modupe Akinola
Columbia Business School
United States

Hannah Riley Bowles
Harvard Kennedy School
United States


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