College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-10-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Alice Stuhlmacher

Second Advisor

Jane Halpert


Backlash effects are the social and economic sanctions for women, but not men, when exhibiting masculine and agentic traits such as assertiveness. This social disincentive has been suggested to account for women’s decreased likelihood to initiate negotiations relative to men. One question that extends from prior findings is how other demographic characteristics (i.e., age) might intersect with gender differences in the experience of backlash in negotiations. Using role congruity theory, research on backlash effects in negotiations and age stereotypes as additional theoretical underpinnings, the purpose of the current study was to investigate the extent to which an individual’s gender (male or female), age (younger or older), and level of assertiveness (assertive or non-assertive) influence the likelihood that they would experience both economic and social backlash. Specifically, this study aimed to examine the interplay between these three variables and predicted that older women who display assertive negotiation behaviors would experience the most backlash in negotiations as compared to younger assertive negotiators and less assertive negotiators because their assertive behaviors are perceived as the most incongruent with both gender role and age role beliefs. Data were collected from 417 participants via the use of Amazon Mechanical Turk (Mturk). Participants were randomly assigned to one of eight possible conditions based on three independent variables: gender of the hypothetical employee (male vs. female), the age of the employee (28 years old vs. 55 years old) and negotiation style of the employee (assertive vs. non-assertive), resulting in a 2 X 2 X 2 between-subjects design. Results showed that assertive male negotiators received more economic and social backlash than female negotiators. Conclusions and implications are discussed.

SLP Collection