A study from University California, Berkeley has presented solid evidence supporting a controversial issue that females have long suspected: Women are more likely than men to be lied to during negotiations. Although the study found that women were likely to be misled, the reasoning for this was less clear.

Dr. Laura Kray and her research associates, Jessica A. Kennedy and Alex B. Van Zanta, analyzed data from actual negotiation simulations in one of the university’s MBA classes to determine if women were truly more likely to be the victims of false information. In the simulation, participants had the opportunity to tell the truth, misrepresent information, or tell a blatant lie about their intentions in order to get the “seller” to make a deal in a mock real-estate negotiation. What they found was unsettling but not exactly surprising. Women were, in fact, much more likely to be deceived than male negotiators, and because of this women entered more deals under false pretenses than their male counterparts, The Huffington Post reported.

"I think there's very clearly a cultural stereotype that women are more easily misled," Kray explained. But what is it that makes women so susceptible to becoming recipients of untruthful tales? Kray and her team hypothesized that women are misled so often because they are perceived as less competent than males. Glo Harris, an executive coach who works with Fortune 100 and 500 companies, however, has a different explanation. Harris believes that people are more likely to lie to women because they know if caught, “the consequences won’t be so great,” as they would be with a man. Harris found that, in her experience, women’s reactions to finding out that they’ve been lied to are far less severe than male reactions. "Women will be more sensitive and not humiliate the person publicly for lying," Harris said.

Whatever the reason for lying to females, it’s clearly a social problem that must be fixed. Unfortunately, it will likely take time before it is as socially unacceptable to lie to a woman as it is to lie to a man. In the meantime, Kray has offered some advice to women to help better protect themselves from deceitful interactions. Her suggestions consist of moves such as “practicing before you go to the bargaining table,” and “having your questions laid you in front of you, so you have guidelines that you can stick to in terms of scrutinizing and asking for verification.”

Along with deterring an individual from telling a lie, women can also protect themselves by learning how to more efficiently tell lies from the truth. Pamela Meyers, author of the book Liespotting, gave a recent TedTalk on easy lie detecting techniques. She described lying as being a cooperative act. “A lie has no power whatsoever by its mere utterance. Its power emerges when someone else agrees to believe the lie,” Meyers said. Traits such as offering too many details, unnecessary eye contact, and repeating the question before answering it are popular among liars, and being able to spot them may offer protection against deception.

Source: Kray LJ, Kennedy JA, Van Zant AB. Not competent enough to know the difference? Gender stereotypes about women’s ease of being misled predict negotiator deception. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 2014