College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-8-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Alice F. Stuhlmacher, PhD

Second Advisor

Doug Cellar, PhD

Third Advisor

Suzanne Bell, PhD


A persistent wage gap exists between women and men in the United States (Catalyst, 2015; Hegewisch, Ellis, & Hartmann, 2015). Although the reasons behind the wage gap are extremely complex, one of the methods through which pay equity may be reached could involve altering the way people approach their goals at the bargaining table, especially since women tend to underperform relative to men in salary negotiations (Mazei, Hüffmeier, Freund, Stuhlmacher, Bilke, & Hertel, 2015). Salary negotiations represent a critical piece of the pay equity puzzle, particularly when individuals are starting their careers. If equally qualified men and women begin their careers negotiating different starting salaries, what may begin as a small difference in pay snowballs to a significant difference in lifetime earnings, and that does not account for other factors like promotions or bonuses. The present study found evidence that supports the use of a motivational intervention for salary negotiations derived from regulatory focus theory (RFT) to reduce gender differences in salary negotiation outcomes. Specifically, women in the role of a job candidate who were told to consciously frame a salary negotiation as an opportunity and instructed to use an eagerness strategy (i.e., focus on attaining one’s aspiration salary value) achieved better negotiated outcomes (i.e., first offer, starting salary) compared to a condition where no specific strategy was assigned. There was also a main effect of the eagerness strategy on first offers and final negotiated salary. The current research also integrated the existing literature on gender differences in negotiation. Women in the eagerness strategy condition anticipated less backlash (i.e., social penalties due to violations of traditional gender role norms) for negotiating compared to the control condition. Lastly, priming job candidates’ regulatory strategy (i.e., eagerness strategy versus control condition) was tested for its role in subjective outcomes such as feelings of satisfaction with the negotiation and perceptions of one’s counterpart. Individuals in the eagerness strategy condition did not differ in their satisfaction with negotiated outcomes (i.e., salary), the negotiation process, perceptions of their own competence, and perceptions of their counterpart compared to the control condition.

SLP Collection