Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 120, Issue 1, pp 13–26 | Cite as

Sweet Little Lies: Social Context and the Use of Deception in Negotiation

  • Mara OlekalnsEmail author
  • Carol T. Kulik
  • Lin Chew


Social context shapes negotiators’ actions, including their willingness to act unethically. We use a simulated negotiation to test how three dimensions of social context—dyadic gender composition, negotiation strategy, and trust—interact to influence one micro-ethical decision, the use of deception. Deception in all-male dyads was relatively unaffected by trust or the other negotiator’s strategy. In mixed-sex dyads, negotiators consistently increased their use of deception when three forms of trust (identity, benevolent, deterrent) were low and opponents used an accommodating strategy. However, in all-female dyads, negotiators appeared to use multiple and shifting reference points in deciding when to deceive the other party. In these dyads, the use of deception increased when a competitive strategy combined with low benevolence-based trust or an accommodating strategy combined with high identity-based trust. Deception in all-female dyads decreased when a competitive strategy was used in the context of low deterrence-based trust.


Negotiation Gender stereotypes Trust Deception 



This research was supported by Australian Research Council Discovery Grant DP0877700.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Melbourne Business SchoolUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of ManagementUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Melbourne School of Psychological SciencesUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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