Individual variation in role construal predicts responses to third-party biases in hiring contexts

Andrea C. Vial, Janine Bosak, Patrick C. Flood, John F. Dovidio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We theorize that individuals’ pre-existing beliefs about the hiring manager role (role construal) are associated with their tendency to condone bias accommodation in hiring contexts, in which a person aligns hiring decisions with the perceived biases of others. In two studies, we focus on human resources (HR) professionals’ endorsement of the role demand to prioritize candidate fit with others (e.g., supervisor) when making hiring decisions. Study 1 examined bias accommodation from a vicarious perspective, revealing that role demand endorsement is positively associated with viewing it as acceptable and common for another hiring manager to accommodate third-party bias against women. Study 2 examined bias accommodation experimentally from an actor’s perspective, showing lower preference for and selection of a female (vs. male) job candidate in the presence of cues to third-party bias against women, but only when role demand endorsement is relatively high. HR professionals in both studies indicated that third-party bias influences in hiring are relatively common. Responses in Study 2 provide preliminary evidence that the phenomenon of third-party bias accommodation might be relevant in the context of employment discrimination based on group characteristics other than gender (e.g., race/ethnicity, age). We discuss the practical implications of our findings for hiring professionals and for organizations seeking to increase diversity in their workforce.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0244393
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Adult
  • Decision Making/physiology
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personnel Selection
  • Prejudice
  • Sexism


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