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New paper offers unexpected tip for men negotiating signing bonuses

man in business suit, holding tie

David Stuart Wiggs/

Here's an offbeat tip for men looking to successfully negotiate a signing bonus: have a fat face.

Possessing a wider face is a plus for males when they negotiate for themselves in business situations, according to a paper recently published in The Leadership Quarterly.

The two lead authors -- Micheal Haselhuhn and Elaine Wong, assistant management professors at the University of California, Riverside -- say that four studies indicate that men with greater facial width-to-height ratios are less co-operative negotiators than men with smaller facial ratios.

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That makes them better at squeezing out higher value when wheeling-and-dealing with other men, but lousier when it comes to finding creative agreements that benefit all negotiating partners, the paper says.

In one simulation parley among undergraduate students, called "The Bonus," the men with broader facial features locked in almost $11,000 (U.S.), compared with only about $8,700 for those without.

In another exercise among MBA students in a negotiating course, the wider-visaged men were more successful at getting a higher sale price for a chemical plant than their narrower-faced colleagues.

Reversing the roles -- thicker-faced men acting as the buyers -- a lower price was agreed upon than in those scenarios where the purchasers had more tapered heads.

But that self-interested mindset among males with greater facial width-to-height ratios (fWHRs) is harmful in negotiations requiring creative solutions aimed at bridging the gap between the two sides' positions, the authors say.

A related finding was that men who are more attractive are better at collaboration than less attractive men.

The researchers don't have an easy answer to why the wider-face/better negotiator correlation should exist, but they point out that fWHR is a physical trait associated with aggressive behaviour.

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"Men with greater fWHRs are more likely to react aggressively to a perceived slight by others, and hockey players with greater facial ratios are more likely to be penalized in hockey games than are men with smaller facial ratios," the paper says.

That in turn, could explain research suggesting that fWHR is related to testosterone levels in men, it says.

The fWHR measure does not appear to be predictive of any changes in behavioural or psychological outcomes in women.

In a paper published in 2012, the two lead authors suggested that the heightened self-interest and aggression shown by men with greater facial ratios were more likely to deceive others in a negotiation as well as more likely to cheat to boost their financial gain.

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About the Author
Quebec Business Correspondent

Bertrand has been covering Quebec business and finance since 2000. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2000, he was the Toronto-based national business correspondent for Southam News. He has a B.A. from McGill University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson. More


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