Third-party prejudice accommodation increases gender discrimination

Andrea C. Vial, Victoria L. Brescoll, John F. Dovidio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated how gatekeepers sometimes arrive at discriminatory hiring selections to accommodate prejudiced third parties due to role demands (i.e., the "third-party prejudice effect"). Studies 1 and 2 show that individuals in charge of personnel decisions were significantly less likely to select a woman when a relevant third party (the chief executive officer of the company in Study 1; the "proposer" in an ultimatum game in Study 2) was prejudiced against women. Gatekeepers accommodate third-party prejudice in this way in order to avoid conflict in relations and task-related problems that would likely occur if the gatekeeper introduced a member of the target of prejudice into an organization. Studies 3 and 4 demonstrated that both interpersonal and task-focused concerns significantly mediated third-party prejudice accommodation. Furthermore, experimentally reducing task-focused concerns significantly reduced the accommodation of third-party prejudice against women (Study 4). We also found that gatekeepers accommodate third-party prejudice regardless of their own beliefs and attitudes (Studies 5 and 6), or their own desire to get along or affiliate with the third party (Study 7), and despite leading to feelings of guilt (Studies 4 and 5). Both men and women accommodated third-party prejudice against women. A role-based framework can be useful to understand the persistence of gender inequality in various fields and organizations, even as individuals endorse increasingly gender-egalitarian views.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-98
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Decision-making
  • Gender bias
  • Prejudice
  • Role theory
  • Social influence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prejudice/psychology
  • Role
  • Young Adult
  • Sexism/psychology
  • Decision Making/physiology
  • Adult
  • Female

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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