The Display of ‘Dominant’ Nonverbal Cues in Negotiation: The Role of Culture and Gender

Zhaleh Semnani-Azad

University of Waterloo – Department of Psychology

Wendi L. Adair

University of Waterloo – Department of Psychology

March 26, 2011

International Negotiation, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 451-479, 2011


The current study extends prior negotiation research on culture and verbal behavior by investigating the display of nonverbal behaviors associated with dominance by male and female Canadian and Chinese negotiators. We draw from existing literature on culture, gender, communication, and display rules to predict both culture and gender variation in negotiators’ display of three nonverbal behaviors typically associated with dominance: relaxed posture, use of space, and facial display of negative emotion. Partici- pants engaged in a dyadic transactional negotiation simulation which we videotaped and coded for non- verbal expression. Our findings indicated that male Canadian negotiators engaged in more relaxed postures and displayed more negative emotion, while male Chinese negotiators occupied more space at the negotiation table. In addition, use of space and negative emotion partially mediated the relationship between culture and joint gains, as well as satisfaction with negotiation process. We discuss contributions to cross-cultural negotiation literature, implications for cross-cultural negotiation challenges, as well as future studies to address cultural variation in the interpretation of nonverbal cues.

The Display of ‘Dominant’ Nonverbal Cues in Negotiation- The Role of Culture and Gender

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