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The Effect of Cognitive Load on Gender Discrimination in Job Interviews

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Title: The Effect of Cognitive Load on Gender Discrimination in Job Interviews
Author: Kith, Sulan
Department: Department of Psychology
Program: Psychology
Advisor: Deborah, Powell
Abstract: Interviews are cognitively-demanding tasks; and the load they put on interviewers may be exacerbated by a number of extraneous situational factors. High cognitive load may compromise the resistance to discrimination that otherwise distinguishes structured interviews from other interview methods, leading to heuristically-driven or discriminatory hiring decisions. The present study examined whether cognitive load influences interviewers’ likelihood to gender discriminate during job interviews, and whether the effect differs based on the measure of discrimination. In the study, participants completed an online interview simulation administrated through a crowdsourcing platform. During the simulation, participants were randomly assigned to either a high cognitive load or low cognitive load condition. All participants were asked to evaluate the interview responses of two equally-qualified, but differently-gendered candidates who were applying for a stereotypically-masculine or stereotypically-feminine job. Participants provided ratings of each candidates’ suitability, as well as a final hiring decision. The cognitive load manipulation was not found to affect the numeric ratings that participants gave the candidates; however, participants in the high cognitive load condition chose to hire the stereotypically gender-congruent candidate more frequently than participants in the low cognitive load condition. These results support the need for incorporating multi-step selection strategies that go beyond interviews, in order to help to prevent discrimination from influencing hiring decisions.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/12167
Date: 2018-01-09


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