Date of Award

Summer 8-16-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

First Advisor

Tilman Sheets

Abstract

An individual’s social world is understood through categorizing other people as those within an individual’s own in-group and those without, or the out-group. Social cognitive theory suggests that individuals make decisions in social settings based on implicit social comparisons between these groups. Stereotypes are oversimplified beliefs about the members of a specific group and discrimination is the behavioral outcome based on held stereotypes. Discrimination based on race, ethnicity, age, and gender has dominated research in the realm of employee selection for the last twenty years. Researchers have demonstrated perceived and actual differences in various attributes by region of the United States (e.g., Kahle, 1986; Rentfrow et al., 2013). The present paper examines potential discrimination that may be occurring based on the geographic location indicated on an application blank. First, one group of participants rated all four regions on several attributes to gauge assumptions about personality and intelligence in each region. Next, a group of hiring managers reviewed one application blank from one of the four different positions that align with one of the four regional stereotypes (e.g., customer service positions align with the Southern stereotype of extraversion and kindness). These participants rated application blank on a hireability scale. Results indicate that stereotypes by region exist for some attributes, but these stereotypes do not seem to be influencing hiring decisions. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed, as are implications for these findings for both researchers and practitioners in the field.

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