Illustration: Kagan McLeod

Bros won’t negotiate. That’s according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, which paired participants and asked them to make decisions on things like buying toothpaste, booking hotels and whether to purchase risky or safe stocks.

In each case the effect was almost always the same: Female and mixed-gender pairs compromised more often. Male pairs, however, were less willing to find a middle ground.

The reason? “When making decisions together, men take actions that are maximally different from feminine norms, which prioritize moderation,” says the study, which finds that men favour positions of “extremity.” Meanwhile, when a woman is at the negotiating table, men may feel less pressured to prove their masculinity and are more likely to compromise.

Retailers and brands should be mindful of this phenomenon says study co-author Hristina Nikolova, of Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. “For instance, marketers should be aware of the fact that when two men make decisions together, they are more likely to choose one of the extreme options,” she says. “So if a company wants to push sales toward a particular option, and expects the target customers to primarily be men making decisions together, then it’s better to make the particular option an extreme option rather than a middle alternative.”

It’s also worth keeping in mind when you’re choosing who to send to a key client or vendor meeting on your behalf. If compromise is in your best interests, you don’t want a bro-ish surrogate blowing up negotiations over a point of pride.


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