Stereotype threat in salary negotiations is mediated by reservation salary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Women are stereotypically perceived as worse negotiators than men, which may make them ask for less salary than men when under stereotype threat (Kray et al., 2001). However, the mechanisms of stereotype threat are not yet properly understood. The current study investigated whether stereotype threat effects in salary negotiations can be explained by motivational factors. A total of 116 business students negotiated salary with a confederate and were either told that this was diagnostic of negotiating ability (threat manipulation) or not. Measures of minimum (reservation) and ideal (aspiration) salary goals and regulatory focus were collected. The finding (Kray et al., 2001) that women make lower salary requests than men when under stereotype threat was replicated. Women in the threat condition further reported lower aspiration salary, marginally significantly lower reservation salary and less eagerness/more vigilance than men. Reservation salary mediated the stereotype threat effect, and there was a trend for regulatory focus to mediate the effect. Thus, reserva-tion salary partly explains why women ask for less salary than men under stereotype threat. Female negotiators may benefit from learning that stereotype threat causes sex-differences in motivation.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology


  • salary negotiation, stereotype threat, mediation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-195
JournalScandinavian Journal of Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch