The Morality of Indiscretion: Hiring and Salary Decisions Involving Ethnically Diverse Job Applicants


Social and organizational psychologists have long been interested in the attributional and inferential biases that result from intergroup contact, but they have rarely studied the behavioral consequences of these judgmental biases. In the present research, subjects participated in a simulated organizational decision making task in which they made hiring and salary decisions about a prospective male employee with whom they shared the same ethnicity (ingroup condition) or from whom they differed in ethnicity (outgroup condition). Some subjects were informed that the job candidate committed a moral breach of judgment during his prior employment, whereas other subjects were informed that the candidate committed no moral breach. The results revealed that outgroup breachers were perceived as more immoral than ingroup breachers; however, outgroup non-breachers were perceived as equally moral to ingroup non-breachers. In addition, whereas subjects were likely to hire both ingroup and outgroup non-breachers, they were significantly more likely to hire ingroup breachers than outgroup breachers. Subjects also recommended starting ingroup non-breachers at a higher salary than outgroup non-breachers. These and other data illustrate the potential behavioral impact of intergroup bias in demographically diverse organizational settings.

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Unpublished Paper

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