We make a lot of joint decisions on a daily basis. Whether choosing to buy a car or house with your spouse, making business decisions with your coworkers, or simply deciding where to have dinner with a friend, we constantly find ourselves having to make choices with others. But when choosing jointly, are we likely to make the same choices we would if we were alone? Our research suggests the answer may depend on the gender composition of the group.
What we found surprised us. Across many different groupings of participants, stimuli, and procedures, the outcome was the same: Women are always more likely to prefer the middle option, whether alone or in a pair (either with another woman or with a man). However, pairs of men tend to choose extreme options, far more so than when men are deciding with other women or when men are deciding alone. For pairs of men, the compromise effect did not occur.
Consider how this might apply to other situations. If a father and a son are choosing a car together, they’ll likely go for the one providing the most fuel efficiency or the one offering the best interior design, instead of settling for a middle alternative that offers a little bit of both. If two men are deciding on corporate strategy together, they may be more likely to go all-in for one approach or take some cards off the table completely. If a woman is involved in the decision making, though, moderate paths are more likely.