“I’m the first to admit that I am very competitive and that I’ll do nearly anything within legal bounds to win,” Donald Trump wrote in his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal. “Sometimes, part of making a deal is denigrating your competition.” That book has been picked apart again and again for the clues it offers about President Trump, but it turns out Trump’s negotiation style is resonating beyond the political sphere. According to a study to be published in the May issue of American Economics Review: Papers and Proceedings, men’s negotiation style with women became much more aggressive after Trump was elected president.
Corinne Low, an assistant professor at Wharton, used a game called “battle of the sexes” to observe how men and women negotiated with each other; the game gives each pair of subjects $20 to split. They only have two options: One person gets $15 and the other gets $5, or vice versa. If they can’t agree on how to split the money, both get $0.
She and her co-author, doctoral student Jennie Huang, randomly assigned the pairs, as well as whether or not each pair knew the gender of their partner. They used an online chat tool, and third-party observers coded the interactions as aggressive or cooperative.
Based on an analysis of 772 chat conversations, they noticed what Low called an “extremely stark” difference between negotiations that took place before the November election and ones that took place after. Before the election, men were more likely to “display what could be classified as ‘chivalry’ toward female partners,” Low wrote. But afterward, the number of men who used a “hard commitment” strategy (“I’m taking $15, take it or leave it”) increased by 140 percent. “That’s a huge effect size in laboratory literature,” Low told the Post. “We’ve never seen anything like that.”
What’s more, more aggressive tactics were actually less effective overall. From the Post:
These more hardball tactics even led to lower effectiveness: More pairs “mismatched” their negotiations, leading to a statistically significant drop in the total money the negotiators took home in the post-election sample. “Not only was the communication more aggressive, it was also less effective,” [Low] said.
Low said she and Huang don’t have enough data to compare their results to other election cycles, or to determine whether the change will last. “Was this just immediately after the election, people were sort of worked up and it’s going to go away?” she said. “Or is it something that’s shifted and is going to last the entire presidency? Those are new questions we don’t have answers to.”