This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Representativeness of Gender Typicality and Attractiveness Bias in Personnel Selection




Hickey, Hayden

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis




Bias in selection procedures has the potential to hinder effective decision making and disparage members of underrepresented groups. Thus, it is important to investigate factors which may contribute to biased judgments in an effort to mitigate harmful effects. Specifically, this research explored the effect of gender typicality and attractiveness bias in personnel selection. We posited that employers use mental shortcuts to make judgments about job candidates, based upon similarity between candidates and perceived gender roles. Participants were asked to make assessments and hypothetical hiring decisions for applicants based upon social media profiles. These profiles contained candidates of varying levels attractiveness/gender typicality via profile pictures and posted information. We expected applicant masculinity and femininity, in conjunction with perceived attractiveness, to influence a job candidate’s likelihood of being hired across various job roles. Our findings indicated that masculine profiles (both male and female) were rated, on average, more hirable than feminine profiles. Thus, attractive males were considered more hirable than their unattractive counterparts. Surprisingly, we found that the gender non-typical female profiles (i.e., masculine) were preferred over gender typical female profiles (i.e., feminine), even when being considered for a female dominant job role. Implications for illuminating these biases as well as potential organizational impact are discussed.