“This study highlights the potential for using virtual agents to study social issues related to how and why different groups make decisions and the impact of those decisions,” Johnson said.
The researchers found 43% of participants did not negotiate at all. Further, job seekers left 20% of value on the table, indicating they did not appreciate the full value of the compensation package.
“People aren’t good at negotiating in general. There’s a need for this kind of training in STEM especially. The 20% on the table — that’s true across genders; there is no difference,” Lucas said.
Most importantly, there were no significant differences found in the negotiating behaviors of women and men (only two participants did not identify with either gender).
“Women have been found to perform just as well as men when negotiating on behalf of others. It is only when they negotiate for themselves that women perform worse than men,” said Kim, a USC Marshall professor of management and organization. “This suggests that such differences may be due to the fear of social stigma against women seeking to benefit themselves too much — a stigma that women typically find difficult to navigate around on their own.”
Those individuals who did negotiate against the virtual agent were able to secure on average $13,000 more than those who did not negotiate. One difference in this particular study is that women tended to value stocks less than men.
“When we asked women their bottom line going into the negotiation, they were willing to settle for less if they thought the environment is hostile to a woman, suggesting they did expect unfair treatment,” Gratch said. “Yet this expectation didn’t impact their final outcome when the interviewer ignored their gender, as our AI was programed to do. This is consistent with the story that the problem is with the men that are interviewing the women, not the women themselves.”
He added that this research has many potential applications: “Here we focus on salary, but you have to negotiate your role in organization, you have to negotiate leadership on a team and you have to negotiate your promotion.”
Other study contributors were Jill Boberg of the USC Institute for Creative Technologies and David Duvaul of Anticipant Speech Inc.