Constructed criteria: Redefining merit to justify discrimination

E. L. UHLMANN, G.L. Cohen

Psychological Science

June 2005, vol. 16, n°6, pp.474-480

Departments: Management & Human Resources

This article presents an account of job discrimination according to which people redefine merit in a manner congenial to the idiosyncratic credentials of individual applicants from desired groups. In three studies, participants assigned male and female applicants to gender-stereotypical jobs. However, they did not view male and female applicants as having different strengths and weaknesses. Instead, they redefined the criteria for success at the job as requiring the specific credentials that a candidate of the desired gender happened to have. Commitment to hiring criteria prior to disclosure of the applicant's gender eliminated discrimination, suggesting that bias in the construction of hiring criteria plays a causal role in discrimination