What’s Good for the Goose May Not Be as Good for the Gander:
The Benefits of Self-Monitoring for Men and Women in Task
Groups and Dyadic Conflicts
Francis J. Flynn and Daniel R. Ames
The authors posit that women can rely on self-monitoring to overcome negative gender stereotypes in
certain performance contexts. In a study of mixed-sex task groups, the authors found that female group
members who were high self-monitors were considered more influential and more valuable contributors
than women who were low self-monitors. Men benefited relatively less from self-monitoring behavior.
In an experimental study of dyadic negotiations, the authors found that women who were high
self-monitors performed better than women who were low self-monitors, particularly when they were
negotiating over a fixed pool of resources, whereas men did not benefit as much from self-monitoring.
Further analyses suggest that high self-monitoring women altered their behavior in these negotiations—
when their partner behaved assertively, they increased their level of assertiveness, whereas men and low
self-monitoring women did not alter their behavior.
Keywords: self-monitoring, sex, gender, negotiations, groups
The personality construct of self-monitoring accounts for dif-
ferences in the degree to which people evaluate and control their
behavior in social situations (Snyder, 1974, 1987). Self-monitoring
can affect many important interpersonal dynamics, including co-
operation, communication, and relationship building (for a review,
see Gangestad & Snyder, 2000). Research in organizational be-
havior has found that self-monitoring has a positive effect on
important employee outcomes such as promotions, interview suc-
cess, network position, individual performance, and job satisfac-
tion (Caldwell & O’Reilly, 1982; Kilduff & Day, 1994; Kolb,
1998; Mehra, Kilduff, & Brass, 2001; Stevens & Kristof, 1995).
Because high self-monitors closely observe social cues and use
them as guides in presenting themselves, they may possess an
advantage in social and organizational environments in which
strong norms are developed, and adherence to them is highly
Much of the theory and research on the benefits of self-
monitoring has assumed that such behavior can be equally useful
to everyone. However, some studies have found evidence that
self-monitoring can be more beneficial to one sex than to the other.
For example, Garland and Beard (1979) and Ellis (1988) consid-
ered whether self-monitoring was more likely to predict leadership
emergence for men or for women. They found that which sex the
benefits of self-monitoring favored depended on the circumstances
(Ellis, 1988). We are drawn back to this matter of whether self-
monitoring offers greater benefit for one sex or for the other
because key questions remain unanswered. In particular, is self-
monitoring more beneficial for women than for men in improving,
or enhancing others’ perceptions of, their performance on certain
Although we agree that self-monitoring behavior may be useful
for anyone who must navigate complex social situations, we sug-
gest it may be even more useful for those who have difficulty
overcoming others’ lowered expectations of their performance.
Many performance contexts in organizations are gender stereo-
typed so that one sex is expected to outperform the other (Eagly &
Karau, 2002). Some performance contexts may be feminine ste-
reotyped; that is, men are assigned lower performance expectations
because the nature of the task is believed to be better suited to the
feminine gender. In these cases, men may benefit relatively more
than women from self-monitoring behavior because it enables men
to detect and counteract the use of negative gender stereotypes.
Most performance contexts in organizations are masculine ste-
reotyped, however, so that women are assumed to be poorer
performers than men (Eagly & Karau, 2002). In these cases,
self-monitoring behavior may have a more positive effect for
women than for men. Women who are high self-monitors can
adapt their behavior to counteract others’ lowered expectations,
thereby enhancing their performance and others’ evaluations of it.
On these same tasks, men may not benefit as much from self-
monitoring because their gender-typed behavior suits the situation
and/or others are inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. In
a pair of studies, we consider the benefits of self-monitoring for
men and for women in task groups and dyadic conflicts—two
performance contexts that favor a masculine stereotype (e.g., Kray,
Thompson, & Galinsky, 2001). Our findings suggest that self-
monitoring may not be equally useful for everyone; instead, the
benefits of self-monitoring may depend on the influence of ste-
reotypes and the nature of the task at hand.
Francis J. Flynn and Daniel R. Ames, Columbia Business School,
We thank Cameron Anderson and Laura Kray for their helpful com-
ments on an earlier version of this article.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Francis J.
Flynn, Columbia Business School, Columbia University, 3022 Broadway,
720 Uris Hall, New York, NY 10027. E-mail: email@example.com
Journal of Applied Psychology Copyright 2006 by the American Psychological Association
2006, Vol. 91, No. 2, 272–281 0021-9010/06/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.91.2.272
Self-Monitoring and Sex Differences
According to self-monitoring theory, people vary in their ten-
dency to monitor and control their self-expressions in public
(Gangestad & Snyder, 2000; Snyder, 1974). High self-monitors,
who are concerned about others’ perceptions of them, are prone to
change their behavior to suit different situations and others’ ex-
pectations. If they believe others are predisposed to view them
negatively, then high self-monitors will be motivated to behave in
a way that counteracts this negative view (Snyder & Copeland,
1989). Low self-monitors, however, are less concerned about how
others perceive them and less able to diagnose these perceptions.
They tend to remain more consistent in their behavior from one
situation to the next, no matter how incongruent their self-
expressions may be with others’ expectations (Gangestad & Sny-
Past research has considered sex differences in self-monitoring
behavior, but this work has been characterized by mixed findings.
On the one hand, research has found that women are more respon-
sive to behavioral expectations than are men. Several studies have
demonstrated women’s greater emotional expressivity (e.g., Hall,
1984) and their ability to decode others’ emotions (Boyatzis,
Chazan, & Ting, 1993; Hall, 1984). Even at a young age, girls are
better able than boys to match their expressions to suit the situa-
tion, as evidenced by research on the disappointing gift paradigm,
in which girls masked their disappointment at receiving a meager
gift more effectively than did boys (e.g., Cole, 1986; Saarni, 1984).
On the other hand, a recent meta-analysis by Day, Schleicher,
Unckless, and Hiller (2002) suggests that men are slightly more
inclined to withhold their true feelings in interpersonal contexts.
Similarly, work by Ickes (2003) casts doubt on the notion of
so-called women’s intuition, the purportedly acute ability of
women to judge what others are thinking and feeling.
In the present research, we are not concerned with whether men
and women differ in their overall level of self-monitoring behav-
ior. Rather, we suggest that women may monitor their behavior in
different ways from men in some cases because they face different
behavioral expectations. For example, a recent study by Levine
and Feldman (2002) found a significant interaction between men
and women and self-monitoring as it related to eye contact in job
interviews. Women who were high self-monitors were more likely
to make eye contact than low self-monitoring women, but no
significant differences were found for men. We would argue that
this difference between the sexes may be rooted in a different set
of behavioral expectations. Whereas men are expected to be as-
sertive in interviews, women are not. However, women who are
high self-monitors may recognize the potential benefit of demon-
strating assertiveness and therefore increase their level of eye
contact with the interviewer.
Self-Monitoring and Overcoming Negative Gender Role
According to role congruity theory (Eagly & Karau, 2002), the
stereotype of an effective manager focuses on masculine, or agen-
tic, characteristics (e.g., assertive, controlling, confident), rather
than on feminine, or communal, characteristics (e.g., affectionate,
helpful, kind, sympathetic). Because others assume they have a
predominantly feminine personality, women are perceived to lack
the predominantly agentic qualities needed to be successful in
management roles (Eagly & Karau, 2002, p. 575). When women
attempt to express agentic behavior, they are viewed less favorably
than men who do so. Thus, women are faced with a dilemma—to
be viewed favorably, they must demonstrate agentic characteristics
that violate their feminine gender role, but such violations often
incur a backlash from others (e.g., Rudman, 1998).
Women may be able to resolve this dilemma by becoming more
aware of conflicting situational pressures and savvier in the way
they attempt to reconcile them. Self-monitoring may help women
decide when it is appropriate to violate their feminine stereotype
by demonstrating agentic behavior. At the same time, it may help
them minimize any potential backlash by being sensitive to social
cues that suggest their behavior is perceived as overly assertive.
Men, however, may have less of a need for self-monitoring be-
cause of their elevated status (Heilman, Block, Martell, & Simon,
1989; Powell & Butterfield, 1979; Rosen & Jerdee, 1978). In fact,
men may be given the benefit of the doubt in most circumstances,
even if they violate others’ expectations of appropriate behavior
We propose that when low self-monitoring men and women
display their “true colors,” men are more likely to enact masculine,
agentic behavior, and women are more likely to enact feminine,
communal behavior. Because femininity conflicts with the mascu-
line stereotype of managerial potential, women who are low self-
monitors will tend to elicit prejudice from others and subsequently
perform worse than men. However, at higher levels of self-
monitoring, this difference will erode as women work to counter-
act negative gender stereotypes and minimize backlash.
How Self-Monitoring May Help Women in Mixed-Sex
Task Group Settings
Female members of mixed-sex task groups often are subjected
to negative gender stereotypes. Compared with men, women tend
to have less influence over group decisions, in part because their
behavior is less assertive. Men initiate communication more fre-
quently, participate in discussions more aggressively, and evaluate
others’ output more openly (Berger, Wagner, & Zelditch, 1985). In
contrast, women are less willing to speak in public and profes-
sional settings, particularly when others are likely to evaluate their
statements (Haslett, Geis, & Carter, 1992). When women do speak,
they tend to be less argumentative and more willing to agree with
others’ opinions (Eagly & Carli, 1981; Rancer & Baukus, 1987;
Wiley & Eskilson, 1985).
For women, self-monitoring behavior—the ability to detect oth-
ers’ preferences and then shape one’s self-expression accord-
ingly—may be useful in overcoming the negative gender stereo-
types ascribed to them. High self-monitors tend to be more
successful in organizations, particularly in interdependent task
settings, because they are more responsive to informational and
social stimuli (Caldwell & O’Reilly, 1982). Rather than rely on
their own preferences, high self-monitors attend to social cues to
“tailor and fashion an image” that others find appealing (Snyder &
Copeland, 1989, p. 16). Women who are high self-monitors may
be more willing and able to overcome their reticence in mixed-sex
task groups, thereby enhancing others’ impressions of them.
Self-monitoring may have a more positive effect on a woman’s
ability than a man’s to acquire influence as a member of a mixed-
WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE?
sex task group. Faced with conflicting role expectations that leave
them uncertain about how to behave, relatively high self-monitors
may be better able to decide when it is time to sit back and when
it is time to speak up. For men, the need to monitor their commu-
nication style is less pronounced because they enjoy idiosyncrasy
credit— others are already inclined to form more favorable im-
pressions of male group members and to value their opinions
(Eagly, Makhijani, & Klonsky, 1992). In short, self-monitoring
will likely increase a woman’s level of influence in a mixed-sex
task group relatively more than a man’s because in many organi-
zational contexts, women face more challenges than men in ac-
Hypothesis 1: Self-monitoring will have a more positive
effect on a female’s level of influence in a mixed-sex task
group than on a male’s level of influence.
Self-monitoring behavior may also assist women in ensuring
that their contributions to the group are recognized (Flynn, Chat-
man, & Spataro, 2001). Men tend to discount women’s contribu-
tions because they take their assistance for granted—women are
supposed to be more communal and supportive (Cuddy, Fiske, &
Glick, 2004; Heilman & Chen, 2005). Women may also be partly
responsible for the lack of credit they receive. Unlike men, women
tend to be modest about their successes because self-promoting
behavior is a violation of the feminine gender role (Daubman,
Heatherington, & Ahn, 1992; Heatherington et al., 1993; Kendall
& Tannen, 1997; Major, McFarlin, & Gagnon, 1984; Singh,
Kumra, & Vinnicombe, 2002). If women are loath to take credit
for their work in group settings, then others may be inclined to
dismiss their contributions as immaterial and insignificant (Flynn,
Women who are high self-monitors will likely avoid these traps.
High self-monitors are more likely to use self-promotion, embel-
lishments, and entitlements (i.e., taking responsibility for positive
events), which often lead others to form more favorable impres-
sions of them (Gilmore & Ferris, 1989; Kacmar, Delery, & Ferris,
1992). They may refrain from downplaying their accomplishments
in task groups because they are more conscious of how this
negatively affects others’ perceptions of their contributions. In-
stead, they may clarify for others the work they have performed for
the team (in a way, e.g., not construed as selfish and aggrandizing)
so they receive due credit for their actions. Men have less of a need
for self-monitoring behavior because they are assumed to be more
valuable contributors. Women who acquire social influence in the
group may be particularly effective at enhancing others’ evalua-
tions of their contributions. Those who have more influence in
small groups tend to be given more credit for their ideas (Berger et
al., 1985). Thus, social influence may mediate the relationship
between sex and perceived contribution.
Hypothesis 2: Self-monitoring will have a more positive
effect on perceptions of female group members’ contributions
than on male group members’ contributions.
Hypothesis 3: Social influence will mediate the relationship
between sex and perceived contribution to group outcomes.
Ninety-six people enrolled in a 2-year full-time master’s of business
administration (MBA) program at an American university participated in
this study. Twenty-eight participants (29%) were women.
As part of their curriculum during the first year, participants were
required to complete a semester-long group project, which, with an asso-
ciated presentation and ratings by other team members of their contribution
to the assignment, accounted for approximately one third of their final
grade in two courses (microeconomics and corporate finance). In the first
week of classes, students were randomly assigned to four- or five-member
teams. The demographic compositions of the teams were adjusted by
representatives of the school administration to ensure that each team
included at least one woman. In the end, 75% of the teams had 1 female
member, and 25% had 2 female members.
Teams were asked to “value” a corporation of their choosing. Their
valuation required “rigorous analysis of the firm’s revenues and costs and
projections of the firm’s future growth and profitability.” In addition, each
team was required to complete an analysis of the firm’s industry, its
competitive strategy, and its corporate structure. At the end of the semester,
the team submitted a single report of its analysis and recommendations.
Each team member received the same grade on the assignment in both
After the participants had submitted their final assignment, survey data
were collected using multiple questionnaires distributed at different times.
In one questionnaire, each participant was asked to provide ratings of
herself on self-monitoring. In a separate online questionnaire, each partic-
ipant was asked to rate each team member on a variety of dimensions,
including social influence. In a third questionnaire, each participant was
asked to evaluate their fellow team members on their perceived contribu-
tion to the group product (e.g., Chatman & Flynn, 2001). Participants were
informed that these individual responses would remain confidential. All
ratings were independently completed. The measures included in the ques-
tionnaire are described in more detail below.
Self-monitoring. We measured self-monitoring using a 13-item scale
validated by Lennox and Wolfe (1984). The scale includes a subscale for
Self-Presentation (e.g., “In social situations, I have the ability to alter my
behavior if I feel that something else is called for”) and a subscale for
Sensitivity to Others (e.g., “I am often able to read people’s true emotions
correctly through their eyes”). Items were rated on a 6-point scale ranging
from 1 (certainly always false)to6(certainly always true)(M
4.35, SD ⫽ 0.50; M
⫽ 4.19, SD ⫽ 0.52).
Social Influence. Participants independently reported their perceptions
of each member’s influence within the team. Respondents were asked to
indicate how strongly each of four statements characterized a focal team
member’s behavior during the course of the semester. The items were (a)
“S/he is able to direct and steer meetings in his or her favor,” (b) “S/he is
able to persuade other people and change their opinions,” (c) “S/he is able
to build effective working relationships with others s/he doesn’t get along
with,” and (d) “People seek his or her help in resolving conflicts.” Re-
spondents indicated the extent to which each of these statements charac-
terized each member of their team using 7-point scales, ranging from 1
(never)to7(always). The overall reliability (alpha) coefficient for the
four-item scale was .82. Responses to the four items were averaged,
yielding an overall measure of each respondent’s perception of a focal
individual’s social influence. The average of these individual responses
was then used to represent others’ perceptions of each team member’s
social influence (M ⫽ 4.69, SD ⫽ 0.57).
FLYNN AND AMES
Contribution to the group product. As part of the grade for the assign-
ment, group members provided ratings of the focal individual’s contribu-
tion to the group’s final product. Each individual was asked to “assign a
score, on a scale of 0 to 10, of how many points you would award each
team member for his or her work.” We averaged teammates’ ratings of the
focal individual (excluding self-ratings) to yield a single composite mea-
sure of each person’s overall contribution (M ⫽ 8.59, SD ⫽ 1.44).
Descriptive statistics and correlations are reported in Table 1.
We suggested that women will be viewed as less influential than
men in small groups because they occupy a position of lower status
in society and are subject to negative gender stereotypes. The
pattern of ratings confirmed our expectations. Specifically, women
were rated by their peers as having less influence than men over
group decisions and outcomes (4.46 vs. 4.77), t(95) ⫽ 3.07, p ⬍
In Hypothesis 1, we predicted that women who were high
self-monitors would be more influential than women who were
low self-monitors in small groups, whereas men would enjoy the
same level of influence regardless of their self-monitoring behav-
ior. To test this idea, we conducted a hierarchical regression, in
which we entered the sex variable (female ⫽ 0, male ⫽ 1) on the
first step, the measure of self-monitoring on the second step, and
the interaction between both variables on the third step. As ex-
pected, the impact of sex on social influence was positive and
⫽ .24, p ⬍ .01), so that men were rated as having
more influence in the group than were women. The self-
monitoring variable had no significant impact (
⫽ .05, ns), but
the impact of the interaction term was negative and significant
⫽⫺1.48, p ⬍ .05), which suggests the impact of self-
monitoring may have been more meaningful for women than for
We graphed the interaction at two levels of self-monitoring for
men and women— one standard deviation below the mean and one
standard deviation above the mean (Aiken & West, 1996). The
graph of this interaction, which can be seen in Figure 1, shows the
predicted outcomes for men and for women who are high self-
monitors and low self-monitors. The graph suggests that women
who were higher self-monitors were rated as being more influen-
tial than women who were low self-monitors (4.67 vs. 4.25),
whereas men’s levels of influence were relatively equivalent,
regardless of whether they were relatively high or low self-
monitors (4.76 vs. 4.78). Thus, Hypothesis 1 is supported. Looking
at men and women separately, the main effect of self-monitoring
on influence was significant for women (
⫽ .42, p ⬍ .01) but not
for men (
Second, we examined the effect of sex and self-monitoring
behavior on perceived contribution to the group. As predicted in
Hypothesis 2, women were considered to be less valuable contrib-
utors than their male colleagues (7.91 vs. 8.87), t(95) ⫽ 3.08, p ⬍
.01. We conducted a hierarchical regression (following the same
steps described above) to determine whether the impact of self-
monitoring on perceived contribution was significantly greater for
men than for women. As expected, the impact of sex on perceived
contribution to the group was positive and significant (
p ⬍ .01), so that men were rated as having contributed more than
women. Although the main effect of self-monitoring was not
⫽⫺.02, ns), the impact of the interaction term was
negative and significant (
⫽⫺1.41, p ⬍ .05).
To clarify the nature of this interaction effect, we graphed the
interaction at two levels of self-monitoring for men and women—
one standard deviation below the mean and one standard deviation
above the mean (Aiken & West, 1996). The graph, shown in
Figure 2, suggests that women who were higher self-monitors were
rated as having contributed more to the group than women who
were low self-monitors (8.35 vs. 7.47), whereas men’s perceived
contribution was slightly lower for high self-monitors compared
with low self-monitors (8.78 vs. 8.96). Thus, Hypothesis 2 is
Means, Standard Deviations, and Correlations Among Study 1
Variable MSD 123
1. Sex —
2. Self-monitoring 4.24 0.52 ⫺.17* —
3. Social influence 4.69 0.57 .31** .22*
4. Perceived contribution 8.59 1.44 .30* ⫺.04 .37**
* p ⬍ .05. ** p ⬍ .01.
Figure 1. The impact of self-monitoring on social influence for men and
Figure 2. The impact of self-monitoring on perceived contribution for
men and women.
WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE?
supported. Once again, looking at men and women separately, the
main effect of self-monitoring on perceived contribution was sig-
nificant for women, albeit only directionally (
⫽ .31, p ⬍ .10),
but the effect was not significant for men (
Finally, our theoretical framework suggests that the increase
in women’s perceived contribution in work groups is largely
because of their ability to influence others. A mediation anal-
ysis (Baron & Kenny, 1986) was conducted to test whether the
impact that sex had on perceptions of individual contributions
to the work group was mediated by social influence (see Figure
3). An initial regression model showed that sex predicted per-
ceived contribution to the group such that men were judged to
be more valuable members than were women (
⫽ .30), t(95) ⫽
3.00, p ⬍ .01. A separate model confirmed that the impact of
sex on social influence (i.e., men were more influential than
women) was significant and in the expected direction (
t(95) ⫽ 3.07, p ⬍ .01. In turn, social influence predicted a focal
group member’s perceived contribution to the group (
t(95) ⫽ 3.75, p ⬍ .01. In a combined model, the predictive
power of the social influence measure fell somewhat (
t(95) ⫽ 3.00, p ⬍ .01, whereas the predictive power of sex
dropped more substantially (
⫽ .21), t(95) ⫽ 2.05, p ⬍ .05. To
assess the magnitude of the decrease in explanatory power, we
calculated the Sobel statistic. In this case, the Sobel value is
2.15 ( p ⬍ .05), which suggests social influence acted as a
mediator. However, we would not characterize these results as
full mediation because the independent variable remained sig-
nificant after the mediating variable was included in the same
equation. Thus, Hypothesis 3 is partially supported.
We argued that women who are high self-monitors may be
perceived as more valuable contributors in work groups because
they are more sensitive to others’ diminished expectations of their
performance, and they can surpass such expectations by presenting
themselves in a more favorable light. The subscales of the Lennox
and Wolfe (1984) self-monitoring measure, which capture “sensi-
tivity to others” and “self-presentation” may enable us to deter-
mine whether one or the other is relatively more important in
explaining the success of high self-monitoring women. We reran
the regressions described above using each of the subscales in
place of the overall measure of self-monitoring. The results sug-
gest that the Self-Presentation subscale explained more variance
than the Sensitivity to Others subscale in predicting women’s
⫽⫺.95, p ⬍ .05 vs.
⫽⫺1.03, ns) and perceived
⫽⫺1.13, p ⬍ .05 vs.
⫽⫺.71, ns), although the
effects for both subscales are in the hypothesized direction.
Finally, our groups varied slightly in their sex composition—
groups had either four or five members, of which 1 or 2 were
women. To be certain that this slight variation was not affecting
the results, we reran our analyses, including dummies for three of
the four possible group compositions (token woman in a group of
five was the base group), but these dummy variables had no
material effect on the results.
The results of Study 1 identified an interaction effect between
self-monitoring and sex on interpersonal influence and on per-
ceived contribution in task groups. Women who were high self-
monitors wielded more influence and were viewed as more valu-
able contributors than women who were low self-monitors and
men. In our second study, we aimed to replicate this effect, but in
a different performance context—a dyadic negotiation exercise.
Research has found that men tend to be more successful negotia-
tors than women (Stuhlmacher & Walters, 1999; Walters, Stuhl-
macher, & Meyer, 1998), in part, because of the influence of
gender stereotypes (Kray et al., 2001). Effective negotiators are
believed to be assertive, decisive, and constructive—traits consis-
tent with the masculine gender (Raiffa, 1982). In contrast, inef-
fective negotiators are believed to be emotional, bashful, and
conciliatory— characteristics that are commonly associated with
the feminine gender (Lax & Sebenius, 1986). Women and men
tend to enact these gender stereotypes in negotiations—whereas
women are more cooperative and collaborative, men are more
assertive and demanding (see Stuhlmacher & Walters, 1999).
Women who are high self-monitors may be able to improve
their performance in dyadic negotiations because they recognize
the value of altering their behavior, particularly in response to
changes in others’ behavior. Self-monitoring in interpersonal
interactions is highly correlated with empathic accuracy— high
self-monitors read their partners more accurately than low self-
monitors (Ickes, Stinson, Bissonette, & Garcia, 1990). High self-
monitors are not only more aware of others’ thoughts and feelings
but also more responsive to them as well. That is, they are more
likely to align their thoughts, feelings, and behavior with those of
their partners (Kilduff, 1992; Miell & LeVoi, 1985). This would
indicate that high self-monitors are more likely to mirror the
behavior of their negotiating partner. As their partners begin to
behave more aggressively, high self-monitors will respond with
more aggressive behavior of their own, whereas low self-monitors
will not alter their behavior.
Figure 3. How social influence mediates the relationship between sex and perceived contribution.
FLYNN AND AMES
This change in behavior may be stronger for women than for
men. Men negotiate by using tougher bargaining tactics, such as
threats, positional commitments, put-downs, interruptions, ex-
treme offers, and ultimatums, whereas women are more likely to
accommodate the positions of their negotiating partners, even at
their own expense (e.g., Kimmel, Pruitt, Magenau, Konar-
Goldband, & Carnevale, 1980; Neu, Graham, & Gilly, 1988;
Womak, 1987). To be effective, women may need to adapt their
negotiating style to include masculine (agentic) behavior as well as
feminine (communal) behavior. For women, the advantage of
behaving in a masculine, or agentic, manner may be relatively
stronger when the bargaining issue is distributive (i.e., dividing a
fixed pool of resources) rather than integrative (i.e., logrolling for
mutual gain) or complementary (i.e., having identical interests)
because tougher, more competitive bargaining tactics are more
effective in negotiating distributive issues (Kray et al., 2001).
Thus, women who are high self-monitors may perform better in
negotiations than women who are low self-monitors, particularly
when negotiating a distributive issue because they recognize the
importance of and are able to enact assertive behavior in the
Hypothesis 4: Self-monitoring will have a more positive
effect on women’s performance in a dyadic negotiation than
Hypothesis 5: The interaction between self-monitoring and
sex will be stronger in predicting performance on distributive
bargaining issues than in predicting performance on integra-
tive or complementary bargaining issues.
Fifty-two MBA students participated in this study. Twenty-six partici-
pants (50%) were women.
Female participants were asked to complete a dyadic negotiation exer-
cise with a randomly assigned male classmate as part of a graduate course
on management. The exercise involved the acquisition of a food exporter.
Participants were randomly assigned to the role of buyer or seller. Prior to
the negotiation, each individual was given a cover sheet with general
instructions along with specific role information. They prepared on their
own and arranged a meeting time and a place to complete the exercise.
During the negotiation, participants were prohibited from physically ex-
changing role information.
The task allowed for a quantitative assessment of negotiation perfor-
mance as determined by the dyad’s agreement on four issues. One issue,
which was distributive, focused on the years of a noncompete contract
(0 –10 years). Each year represented an equal amount of gain/loss for the
buyer and for the seller. A second issue, which was complementary,
involved some remaining contingent liability, which both parties wanted
the seller to retain in entirety (every 10 percentage points of liability
represented an equal amount of gain or loss for both parties). Finally, two
remaining issues, which were integrative, dealt with the sale price of the
company and with the number of the seller’s family members who would
remain employed. The sale price was relatively more important to the
buyer, and the number of family members retained was relatively more
important to the seller. The highest joint outcome on these last two issues
emerged when the buyer conceded entirely on the family members issue
and the seller conceded entirely on the price issue.
The negotiation instructions clearly indicated that the participants’ ob-
jective, whether they were the buyer or the seller, was to maximize their
payoff. Participants were free to discuss the issues simultaneously or in any
order of their choosing. The negotiation concluded when both parties came
to a mutual agreement on terms. After reaching an agreement, the buyer
and seller recorded the final terms and submitted them through a computer-
based survey to the instructor. No parties failed to reach an agreement.
Self-monitoring. Once again, we measured self-monitoring using a
13-item scale developed by Lennox and Wolfe (1984). For each item, the
participant rated himself on a 6-point scale ranging from 1 (certainly
always false)to6(certainly always true)(M
⫽ 4.22, SD ⫽ 0.40;
⫽ 4.34, SD ⫽ 0.58).
Negotiation success. Each student was given a payoff table they could
use to evaluate their success in the negotiation. The maximum amount each
party could receive was equivalent (5,500 points). The value assigned to
each issue was broken down into 10 equal increments. For the noncontin-
gent liability (complementary) issue, an incremental increase of 10%
liability corresponded to an increase of 50 points. For the noncompete
contract (distributive) issue, each additional year of the contract corre-
sponded to a gain of 150 points for the buyer and a loss of 150 points for
the seller. For the issues dealing with the sale price of the firm and the
number of family members retained (integrative), the gains and losses
incurred by the buyer and seller were not proportional. The seller gained
250 points for each additional family member retained and 100 points for
each increase of $1 million in the sale price. For the buyer, each additional
family member let go represented a gain of 100 points, and each $1 million
decrease in the sale price represented a gain of 250 points. There was no
significant difference in performance outcomes between the buyer and the
seller (3,515 vs. 3,510), t(50) ⫽⫺.04, ns.
Descriptive statistics and correlations are reported in Table 2.
According to Hypothesis 4, self-monitoring behavior should
benefit women relatively more than men in dyadic negotiations. To
test this idea, we ran a hierarchical regression in which we entered
sex and the measure of self-monitoring on the first step and the
interaction term on the second step. The impact of sex (female ⫽
0, male ⫽ 1) on negotiation success was not significant (
ns), nor was the impact of self-monitoring on negotiation success
⫽⫺.03, ns). The impact of the interaction term was negative
and significant (
⫽⫺2.69, p ⬍ .05), however, which suggests
that self-monitoring had a relatively stronger impact on outcomes
for women than for men. Thus, Hypothesis 4 is supported.
The graph of this interaction, which can be seen in Figure 4,
shows the predicted performance outcomes for men and for
women who are high and low self-monitors. Women benefited
relatively more from self-monitoring than did men. For men,
self-monitoring had a negative effect on their performance in the
negotiation (low self-monitoring ⫽ 3,655; high self-monitoring ⫽
3,371). For women, however, self-monitoring had a positive im-
pact on overall performance (low self-monitoring ⫽ 3,345; high
self-monitoring ⫽ 3,678). Looking at men and women separately,
the main effect of self-monitoring on overall performance was not
significant for either sex (
⫽ .32, ns;
In Hypothesis 5, we predicted that self-monitoring would be
particularly helpful to women on distributive bargaining issues, in
which a unit of gain for one party entails a unit of loss for the other.
WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE?
Once again, we ran a hierarchical regression in which we entered
sex and the measure of self-monitoring on the first step and the
interaction term on the second step. The impact of sex (female ⫽
0, male ⫽ 1) on performance on the distributive issue was not
⫽ .12, ns), nor was self-monitoring (
⫽ .10, ns).
The interaction term, however, was negative and significant (
⫺3.09, p ⬍ .05). Again, to clarify the form of the interaction, we
graphed the interaction, shown in Figure 5. The graph indicates
that women who were higher self-monitors performed better on the
distributive bargaining issue than women who were low self-
monitors (861 vs. 559), whereas men who were high self-monitors
did somewhat worse than low self-monitoring men (high self-
monitoring ⫽ 846 vs. low self-monitoring ⫽ 746). Looking at
these differences more closely, the main effect of self-monitoring
on women’s distributive outcomes is positive and significant (
.45, p ⬍ .05), whereas the main effect of self-monitoring on men’s
outcomes is not significant (
⫽⫺.14, ns). We also examined the
performance outcomes between high self-monitoring men and
women, using a median split on self-monitoring for each sex.
Women who were high self-monitors actually outperformed men
who were high self-monitors, but the difference was not signifi-
cant, t(24) ⫽ 0.48, ns.
As for the effect of self-monitoring on negotiating integrative
and complementary issues, the results of a pair of hierarchical
regressions showed no effect for sex (
⫽ .13, ns), self-monitoring (
⫽ .03, ns), or the interaction term (
⫽⫺.31, ns). To test whether the interac
tion effect of sex and self-monitoring was significantly stronger on
the distributive issue than on the integrative issues or on the
complementary issue, we compared the relative magnitude of the
coefficients from each regression following the steps outlined by
Cohen, Cohen, West, and Aiken (2003, p. 642). The test confirmed
that the moderating effect of sex on self-monitoring was relatively
stronger for the distributive issue, when compared with the inte-
grative, t(49) ⫽ 5.37, p ⬍ .001, and complementary, t(49) ⫽ 5.54,
p ⬍ .001, issues (see Figure 5). Thus, Hypothesis 5 is supported.
The consistent results between our analyses of the overall com-
posite score and the specific score on the distributive issue are
worth noting. One might argue that the distributive benefit ob-
tained by female negotiators who are high self-monitors elicits a
trade-off—their aggressive behavior in the negotiation increases
their performance on the distributive issue but decreases their
performance in negotiating other issues (integrative or comple-
mentary). This would indicate that their overall performance in the
negotiation may not be improved by self-monitoring; rather, the
effect of self-monitoring is simply “a wash.” Our analyses of the
overall composite score cast doubt on this possibility, suggesting
instead that female negotiators who are high self-monitors can
improve their performance in negotiating distributive issues with-
out sacrificing their performance in negotiating other issues.
We collected additional data to shed light on what high and low
self-monitoring women are doing differently in these dyadic ne-
gotiations. We suggested earlier that self-monitoring may lead
women to be more responsive—when their partner behaves more
assertively, high self-monitoring women will become more asser-
tive. To test this idea, we asked participants about their assertive
behavior and their partners’ assertive behavior during the negoti-
ation. Participants used a 6-point scale, ranging from 1 (not at all)
to6(a great deal), to indicate the extent to which “I was assertive”
and “My partner was assertive.” Women who were relatively low
self-monitors (using a median split of 4.38) showed little tendency
to match their behavior to their partner’s (r ⫽⫺.06), but for
women who were high self-monitors, their level of assertiveness
almost perfectly correlated with their partner’s (r ⫽ .93). We
analyzed this effect in a pair of regression equations (one for high
self-monitoring women and one for low self-monitoring women),
in which self-monitoring and perceived partner assertiveness were
Figure 5. The impact of self-monitoring on distributive negotiation out-
comes for men and women.
Means, Standard Deviations, and Correlations Among Study 2
Variable MSD12 3
2. Self-monitoring 4.28 0.49 .12
3. Total score 3512.5 550.9 .00 ⫺.03
4. Score on distributive issue 752.9 334.1 .13 .11 .51**
** p ⬍ .01.
Figure 4. The impact of self-monitoring on negotiation outcomes for men
FLYNN AND AMES
entered on the first step, an interaction term was entered on the
second step, and the dependent variable was the focal participant’s
level of assertiveness. As expected, the interaction effect was
positive and significant for high self-monitoring women (
5.23, p ⬍ .001), but not for low self-monitoring women (
⫺1.06, ns), which suggests that women who were high self-
monitors were more responsive to their partners’ assertive behav-
ior compared with women who were low self-monitors. There was
no main effect of self-monitoring on assertiveness for women (
⫺.24, ns), which casts doubt on the notion that women who are
high self-monitors are somewhat tougher; rather, they are more
contingent in their behavior.
We also examined whether partner assertiveness translated into
distributive gains for female negotiators who were high self-
monitors. For women who were low self-monitors, performance
on the distributive issue suffered when they were paired with more
assertive partners (r ⫽⫺.51, p ⬍ .05), whereas for high self-
monitors, the correlation was negligible (r ⫽ .03, ns). Thus,
women who were high self-monitors seemed able to adapt to being
paired with a more assertive partner (by behaving assertively
themselves), whereas low self-monitors seemed unable to do the
same. Finally, we ran a set of regression equations (one for men
and one for women) in which self-monitoring and perceived part-
ner assertiveness were entered on the first step, an interaction term
was entered on the second step, and the dependent variable was
performance on the distributive issue. For women, the interaction
term was positive and significant (
⫽ 3.87, p ⬍ .05), which
indicates that women who were higher self-monitors responded
better than low self-monitors to their partner’s assertive behavior
(perhaps by matching it). In contrast, for men, the interaction term
⫽ .99, ns) was not significant, indicating that the effect of
self-monitoring may be relatively stronger for women than for
We found support for the idea that self-monitoring can help
women’s performance relatively more than men’s in certain task
environments. First, in group settings, women who were higher
self-monitors wielded more influence over fellow group members
than women who were low self-monitors. In addition to increasing
their level of influence, self-monitoring behavior helped women be
seen as more valuable contributors in work groups. The added
benefit of self-monitoring for men, however, was not as strong.
Regardless of their level of self-monitoring behavior, fellow group
members saw them as equally influential and valuable contribu-
tors. Second, at the dyadic level, women who were higher self-
monitors claimed more resources in negotiations. Their improved
success was particularly pronounced when they were negotiating
over distributive issues, which typically favor assertive behavior
(counterstereotypical behavior for women). Men, however, did not
benefit as much from self-monitoring behavior in dyadic
We believe these results point to new directions for theory and
research on self-monitoring behavior. In the past, researchers have
focused on identifying the main effects of self-monitoring on
individual outcomes, but our findings suggest these effects may be
stronger for some individuals than for others. We do not predict
(nor find evidence) that men and women exhibit different levels of
self-monitoring. Instead, we propose that the impact of self-
monitoring may be different for men and women because they
experience different gender stereotypes. We hope our findings will
encourage self-monitoring researchers to consider an interactionist
perspective—self-monitoring may be more impactful when others’
impressions of the focal individual are negatively affected by
situational forces. Our results might also provoke broader ques-
tions about the consequences of self-monitoring for groups that are
the targets of stereotyping and prejudice. It is not the case that
self-monitoring is somehow less interesting or potent if its effects
emerge differently or more strongly for members of discriminated
groups. On the contrary, it becomes all the more interesting, with
such interactions revealing something about the consequences of
both self-monitoring and stereotypes.
Limitations and Directions for Future Research
Although our results were consistent with our predictions, they
raise a number of important questions. First, we proposed that
self-monitoring may mitigate the negative impact of gender role
stereotypes by allowing women more behavioral flexibility (i.e.,
they can demonstrate agentic or communal behavior depending on
the situation). We attempted to assess whether and how women
who were higher on self-monitoring adapted their behavior to suit
each specific situation. We found some preliminary evidence that
the performance benefit of self-monitoring for women was driven
by their ability to successfully exhibit masculine, or assertive,
behavior in response to changes in situational pressure (e.g., their
partner’s level of assertiveness). Future research should develop
and incorporate more specific measures of gender-typed behavior
in negotiations or work groups that further test the logic underlying
our hypotheses and eliminate some alternative explanations for our
Second, our measures of social influence and contribution are
subjective, which may limit their accuracy. In the future, research-
ers might address this problem by assessing both variables more
directly. Measures of social influence could be obtained by vid-
eotaping group meetings and measuring the frequency and dura-
tion of each member’s participation in interpersonal communica-
tion (e.g., Anderson, John, Keltner, & Kring, 2001). More
specifically, blind coders could be used to assess how frequently
women and men downplay their accomplishments. We expect that
women who are high self-monitors do this less frequently than
women who are low self-monitors, which may help explain their
ability to obtain more credit for their work. In addition, the four
negotiation issues used in our experimental study were not pre-
sented in a particular order. This raises concerns about potential
order effects and should be addressed in future research.
Third, we considered how self-monitoring may help women in
certain performance contexts, but we did not consider how self-
monitoring may help men. If we examine performance contexts
that are feminine-gendered, then we may find that self-monitoring
can be more helpful to men. In positions that evoke feminine
gender stereotypes, such as nursing or secretarial roles, men may
need to monitor their behavior more closely to suit situated ex-
pectations. However, even if men occupy a feminine role, the high
status they enjoy from being a man rather than a woman may help
them overcome any role incongruity, thereby mitigating the need
for self-monitoring behavior (e.g., Fiske, 1993). Future research
WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE?
that focuses on the benefits of self-monitoring in roles that are
feminine-gendered is needed to test these competing ideas.
One of the surprising findings from our second study was the
relatively poor performance of men who were high self-monitors
compared with men who were low self-monitors. There may be
several explanations for this finding. The worse outcome for men
may be the result of sampling error. Alternatively, it may be that
self-monitoring behavior corresponds to mimicry (e.g., Ickes et al.,
1990). Men who are high self-monitors may fail to show the
assertiveness needed to be effective in a distributive negotiation
because they are reflecting the gender-typed behavior of their
negotiation partner rather than their true level of assertiveness.
This would imply that men who are high self-monitors may not
benefit as much from self-monitoring when they are paired up with
women as when they are paired up with men. Given that men
dominate the executive ranks of organizations, perhaps men ben-
efit from self-monitoring behavior in general but not in mixed-sex
dyads, which occur less frequently.
Finally, we considered how self-monitoring may improve the
performance of women, but not their reputations. Previous work
has found that women’s success in typically male jobs can draw
negative reactions from their coworkers (Rudman, 1998). Women
who are recognized as strong performers, particularly in tasks that
are masculine in character, tend to be liked less than equally
successful men (Heilman, Wallen, Fuchs, & Tamkins, 2004). This
presents an interesting question for future research: Can women
who are high self-monitors reduce bias in others’ attitudes toward
them as effectively as they improve others’ judgments of their
performance? Snyder’s (1974) original conceptualization of self-
monitoring referred to a predisposition toward impression man-
agement. Recent theorizing has moved away from this idea, how-
ever, arguing instead that high self-monitors are not as interested
in managing others’ impressions as originally assumed (Gangestad
& Snyder, 2000). It remains to be seen whether the self-monitoring
behaviors women can rely on to improve their performance and
others’ impressions of it can also translate into greater liking and
Personality researchers have lauded the benefits of self-
monitoring in social situations. High self-monitors act as “chame-
leons,” effectively changing their public image to suit the situated
identity. But, do all “chameleons” benefit equally by changing
their colors from one situation to the next, or do certain members
of the species benefit more in certain situations? We find that
demographic differences (particularly sex) may moderate the im-
pact of self-monitoring in certain performance contexts. The ques-
tion remains: What are some self-monitors doing differently from
others that would explain their different levels of success? We
found some evidence that responsiveness to changes in others’
behavior may play a role, but more intense scrutiny is needed from
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Received June 8, 2004
Revision received March 28, 2005
Accepted March 28, 2005 䡲
WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE?