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Gender differences in buyer-seller negotiations: emotion regulation strategies.

Negotiation between buyer and seller is the most essential element in the marketing process (Graham, 1985). One of the key research factors in the buyer-seller negotiation is if gender makes a difference in bargaining behavior and outcomes. Researchers of gender differences in negotiation behavior have gradually shifted their focus from treating gender as a predictor of behavior towards examining how gender affects the outcome of negotiation through other variables (Craver, 2002; Pradel, Bowles, & McGinn, 2006). Analyses of negations are dominated by the relationship between gender and emotions in power relations (Shields & Warner, 2009). By studying emotions researchers gain important information. Therefore, relationships between emotional regulation, negotiation outcome, and gender were investigated in this study.

Regulation of emotion refers to the process by which individuals influence which emotions they experience, and how they are experienced. At the broadest level, regulation of emotion can be divided into categories of cognitive reappraisal and suppression (Gross, 1998). Cognitive reappraisal is a form of cognitive change that alters the way one thinks about and perceives a situation, and can elicit emotion in a way that changes the emotional effect produced by a situation. Reappraisal is an antecedent-focused strategy (Lazarus & Alfert, 1964) and occurs early in the process of emotion generation. By contrast, suppression is a form of response-focused strategy in which behavioral expression is decreased. As emotions arise continually, one needs to manage effectively and respond appropriately to them, because suppression comes relatively late in the emotion generation process (Gross, 2001). Recent researchers have also paid attention to suppression, which is a response-focused strategy (Gross, 2001; Yurtsever, 2008). This means that those who use suppression as a strategy seek to modify their emotions once they are underway. Using a response-focused strategy decreases behavioral expression as individuals consciously manage their emotional responses as their emotions arise (Gross, 1998). The use of a defense strategy reduces opportunities to exercise expert intuition since such repeated efforts mean that individuals are preoccupied with regulating their emotions (Butler et al., 2003). The use of suppression decreases behavioral expression, meaning that one cannot successfully decrease the experiential and behavioral components of negative emotions (Gross, Richards, & John, 2006). In negotiations involving complex task decisions, negotiators often compete against one another. Therefore, negotiators may have emotional experiences that influence the course of the negotiation(s) and other related interactions.

In most societies, expressing emotion is generally thought to be unmanly (Brody, 2000). On the other hand, in gender studies it has been indicated that men and women report using reappraisal with comparable frequency in everyday life (Gross et al., 2006). McRae, Ochsner, Mauss, Gabrieli, and Gross (2008) noted that women regulate positive emotion to a greater extent than do men when attempting to reduce and regulate negative emotion. The use of cognitive reappraisal helps negotiators to reduce the experimental and behavioral components of negative emotions because it occurs early in the process of generating emotions, and regulates emotional response tendencies that have been fully generated. It does not require the individual to consciously to manage emotion response tendencies as they arise because it occurs before the emotional response tendencies have been fully generated. In contrast, suppression is a response-focused strategy, which means that it comes late in the process of generating emotion. This means that those who use cognitive reappraisal tend not to ruminate on their negative emotions but, rather, focus on, and deal with, disputes and issues (Gross & John, 2003).

Advantages and disadvantages, exploitation and control, action and emotion, and meaning and identity are patterned in terms of a distinction between male and female, and masculine and feminine (Acker, 1990). Some researchers of culture have found that men try to inhibit ongoing emotion-expressive behavior more than do women (Scherer, Wallbott, & Summerfield, 1986). Thus, we included cognitive reappraisal, and cognitive reappraisal suppression as mediating factors in our model (see Figure 1).

As outlined, the use of cognitive reappraisal and cognitive reappraisal suppression may mediate the strength of the relationships between negotiators' profits and gender. On the other hand, mediator variables are best used in the case of a relationship between the predictor and the criterion variables. Hypothesis 1: The use of cognitive reappraisal will have a mediating effect in the strength of the relationships between profit achievement and gender. Hypothesis 2: The use of cognitive reappraisal suppression will have a mediating effect in the strength of the relationships between profit achievement and gender.



The participants were 86 women and 86 men, aged between 28 and 56 years (M = 33, SD = 2.3). They were all lower and middle-level managers enrolled in negotiation training workshops that were being offered to business people at a university in Turkey. All were university graduates and had been students for at least 5.1 years in addition to working as managers in various companies.


There were two phases in the research. In Phase 1, participants were sorted randomly into pairs of one man and one woman and assigned to play the role of either buyer or seller in a negotiation simulation. The negotiation simulation, developed by Kelley (1966), involves bargaining for the prices of three products. Kelley's game was selected mainly because it is a simulation of the essential factors in actual trade bargaining, and it is also simple enough to learn quickly (Graham, 1985; Pruitt & Lewis, 1975). Each negotiator was given an instruction sheet and a price list with associated profits for each price. Participants were allowed 15 minutes to read the instructions, that is, either a buyer's or seller's position sheet and appropriate payoff matrix, and plan their bargaining strategies. Questions about any confusing aspects were answered during this time. The participants were seated across from one another at a table, given final verbal instructions, and then left alone. The time allowed for this game was one hour. However, it took an average of 31 minutes for these participants to complete. Negotiators' individual profits were associated with a final agreement in Kelley's negotiation simulation (range = 0 to 80). (See Kelley [1966] for complete details regarding the negotiation simulation.)

Graham, Kim, Lin, and Robinson (1988) note that such buyer-seller negotiating mainly relates to monetary factors. Therefore, the negotiation outcome variable considered in this study was that the negotiator's individual profits were derived directly from the bargaining solution agreed to by the negotiators.


In Phase 2, participants filled out questionnaires regarding their emotional regulation. Gross and John developed the Emotional Regulation Questionnaire in 1998 and in 2003 validated this scale, reporting its alpha reliability to be .79. The questionnaire has two parts; the first is designed to measure cognitive reappraisal, and the second is designed to measure suppression. For reappraisal there are six items, such as: "To control my emotions by changing the way I think about the situation I'm in." For suppression there are four items, such as: "I control my emotions by not expressing them." These items are rated on a scale ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree. (See Yurtsever [2008] for details of the validity of all the scales used in this study.)


In order to find the internal consistency of the scales in the present research, Cronbach's alpha reliability coefficients were calculated. The results indicated that the internal consistency of the scales in this study was adequate (see Table 1). Partial correlations, controlling for gender, among all variables, are also presented in Table 1. Profit achievement had a positive relationship with cognitive reappraisal (r = .34, p < .001) and a negative relationship with cognitive suppression (r = -.43, p < .001).

To analyze the effects of mediators, the following method was used. In Step 1, gender was entered into the model. The results showed no significant relationship between profit achievement and gender (see Table 2). Regarding the proposed mediators, at Step 2, cognitive reappraisal was added into the model and this explained 13% of the variance. In Step 3, cognitive reappraisal suppression was added to the model and the variance explained increased from 13% to 24%.


In this study our aim was to identify if cognitive reappraisal and reappraisal suppression have a mediating effect in the relationship between gender and negotiation in a buyer-seller context. The results indicated that there were no effects of gender on profit achievement when the mediator variables of cognitive appraisal and cognitive suppression were controlled. Cognitive reappraisal was positively related to negotiation, and cognitive reappraisal suppression was negatively related to profit. The results in this study showed that cognitive reappraisal and cognitive reappraisal suppression had mediating effects in the relationships between gender and negotiating achievements. Such findings are consistent with those of Craver (2002) and Pradel, Bowles, and McGinn (2006), suggesting that gender differences in negotiation are not absolute.

Management Implications

Our results in this study could be interpreted as indicating that there is no significant relationship between profit achievement and gender; therefore, gender should not be a criterion for a buyer-seller assignment. Most importantly, a system is brought about by these constraints that is biased in favor of stereotypes about men or women. A stereotype relates to an individual's perceptions and is not necessarily an accurate depiction of the real world. We believe that the much tougher issue of redefining an organization's norms and expectations about what it takes to be seen as an appropriate fit and succeed in a given marketing managerial position should be investigated.

However, there are numerous other factors, such as culture, that can influence the relationships between gender and negotiating achievements and future researchers should investigate these.

Study Limitations

There are two limitations that need to be addressed regarding the present study. The first limitation is that we collected data using a self-report survey, so common method bias may be present in the results of this study. Future researchers, including field experimenters, should examine the negotiation process under negotiating contexts.

The second limitation relates to the extent to which the findings can be generalized beyond the sample of managers at the university in Turkey. It will test the generalizability of these findings to apply them to samples from different occupations and cultures.



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Toros University


Yasar University


European Centre for Research and Financing

Gulcimen Yurtsever, Management Department, Toros University; Berrin Ozyurt, Psychology Department, University; Zohar Ben-Asher, European Centre for Research and Financing. This study was funded by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to: Gulcimen Yurtsever, School of Economics, Administrative and Social Sciences, Management Department, Toros University, Bahcelievler Campus, 1857 Sokak, No 12, Yenis.ehir, Mersin 33140, Turkey. Email:

Table 1. Cronbach's Alphas, Means, Standard Deviations and Pearson
Correlations Among Variables

Variables                Reliability    M    SD       1         2

Cognitive reappraisal        .91       3.1   1.5
Cognitive suppression        .87       3.0   1.9    .29 *
Profit achievement            -        4.4   1.3   .34 ***   -.43 ***

Note. *p < .05, *** p < .001.

Table 2. Hierarchical Regression Analysis of Profit Achievement

        Variables               [beta]     t     [R.sup.2]

Step    1                                           .02
        Gender                   .18      1.7
Step    2                                           .13
        Cognitive reappraisal    .35     3.5**
Step    3                                           .24
        Gender                   .04      .46
        Cognitive reappraisal    .24     2.5**
        Cognitive suppression    -.38    -3.8*

Note. * p < .05, ** p < .01.
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Article Details
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Author:Yurtsever, Gulcimen; Ozyurt, Berrin; Ben-Asher, Zohar
Publication:Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:7TURK
Date:May 1, 2013
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