Wide-faced men negotiate nearly $2,200 larger signing bonus

by Sean Nealon

Having a wider face helps men when they negotiate for themselves but hurts them when they are negotiating in a situation that requires compromise. Additionally, men who are more attractive are better collaborators compared to less attractive men.

Those are among the findings outlined in a just published paper co-authored by Michael P. Haselhuhn and Elaine M. Wong, assistant professors of management at the University of California, Riverside's School of Business Administration. The paper describes four negotiation simulations set up by the authors of the paper.

In one, they found that with wider faces negotiated a signing bonus of nearly $2,200 more than men with a more narrow face.

Similarly, in another scenario, they found that when men with wider faces were selling a chemical plant they negotiated a higher sale price than men with a more narrow face. When those same wide-faced men were in the buyer role they negotiated a lower price than the narrow-faced men.

In the third negotiating scenario, in which a creative solution is needed to bridge a gap on a real estate transaction, the researchers placed men in teams of two. They found that the teams with wider-faced men were less successful in the negotiation.

In the final scenario, research assistants were given a series of questions to access the attractiveness and beauty of the research subjects. Again, the men were paired off and given the same scenario in which they needed to come up with a creative solution to bridge a gap on a real estate transaction. The researchers found that the more attractive men were more successful in the negotiation.

"These studies show that being a man with a wider face can be both a blessing and a curse and awareness of this may be important for future business success," Haselhuhn said.

The paper, "Negotiating face-to-face: Men's facial structure predicts negotiation performance," was published online in the journal Leadership Quarterly. Haselhuhn and Wong's co-authors are Margaret E. Ormiston and M. Ena Inesi, both of the London Business School, and Adam D. Galinsky of Columbia University.

The paper builds on several previous papers focused on what Haselhuhn, Wong and the other co-authors call facial width-to-height ratio. Previous findings include:

  • Individuals behave more selfishly when interacting with men with wider faces and this selfish behavior elicits selfish behavior in others.
  • Men with wider faces are more likely to lie and cheat.
  • Men with wider faces tend to lead more financially successful firms.

With the most recent paper, Haselhuhn and Wong aimed to fill a hole in the negotiation research field.

Skillful negotiation is a critical component of effective leadership. A lot of research has examined negotiators' behaviors, such as asking questions and making aggressive first offers, and their influence on processes and outcomes.

However, with the exception of research on sex and gender effects, there has been considerably less research on how individual psychological or physical differences impact negotiating outcomes.

Haselhuhn said he believes the most recent findings are valuable to everybody.

"We negotiate everyday whether we think about it or not," he said. "It's not just the big things, like a car or a home. It's what time your kid is going to go to bed or what you or your spouse are going to have for dinner."

More information: Michael P. Haselhuhn, Elaine M. Wong, Margaret E. Ormiston, M. Ena Inesi, Adam D. Galinsky, "Negotiating face-to-face: Men's facial structure predicts negotiation performance," Leadership Quarterly, Available online 16 July 2014, ISSN 1048-9843, dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2013.12.003.

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