UO-led study finds that two hormones influence a negotiator's success

Pranjal Mehta
Pranjal Mehta, Department of Psychology

A seller's success in realizing a financial gain can be influenced by the levels of two hormones during a negotiation with a buyer. That's the preliminary finding in the first of a series of studies led by the UO's Pranjal Mehta.

For a newly published study in the journal Psychological Science, Mehta's four-member research team conducted two experiments with separate pools of participants — one involving students at Columbia University in New York and the other involving a broader population in the Austin, Texas, area.

While levels of testosterone and the stress hormone cortisol were measured before and after the game-based experiments, it was the interaction of the two hormones in the sellers that were telling. The researchers found that testosterone spikes were linked to higher financial earnings, but only when cortisol levels stayed low throughout a negotiation.

“The findings suggest that when cortisol decreases, rising testosterone is related to behaviors that maximize monetary rewards,” the researchers wrote in the study. “But when cortisol increases, rising testosterone is linked to bargaining behaviors in which social concern comes at a financial cost.”

Mehta, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, cautions that the findings are not definitive and that this line of research will continue.

Read about the new study in a news release issued by the journal: "Two Hormones Predict Negotiators’ Success"