The Secret To Negotiating A Large Signing-On Bonus

George Clooney. Julien M. Hekimian/Getty Images

Having a wider face helps men when they negotiate for themselves but hurts them when they are negotiating in a situation which requires compromise.

And men who are more attractive are better collaborators compared to less attractive men.

Those are among the findings outlined in a study 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.

Michael Haselhuhn and Elaine Wong are both assistant professors of management. Image: UC Riverside

In one, men 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.

And when those same wide-faced men were in the buyer role they negotiated a lower price than the narrow-faced men.

In the third 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 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,” says Haselhuhn.

The paper, Negotiating face-to-face: Men’s facial structure predicts negotiation performance, is published in the journal The Leadership Quarterly.

Haselhuhn and Wong’s co-authors are Margaret E. Ormiston and M. Ena Inesi, both from the London Business School, and Adam D. Galinsky of Columbia University.

The paper builds on previous studies 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 elicits selfish behaviour 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’ behaviours, 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 results.

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

“We negotiate everyday whether we think about it or not,” he says. “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.”

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