The effect of accountability on age discrimination in the employment interview



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The present study sought to assess the phenomenon of age dis- criminatiaon in an employment interview context. The experiment utilized carefully constructed videotapes of 25, 4O, and 55 year old role-players enacting the role of a job applicant. All of the stimulus persons responded to a set of standardized questions in a similar manner. These tapes were validated across a number of verbal and nonverbal dimensions in order to arrive at a set of two stimulus tapes for each age group which were most similar to each other. One hundred and twenty subjects were informed that they were to be involved in the pilot-testing of a new employee placement technique which utilized videotaped interviews. They were told that the purpose of the study was to see if impressions are formed differently when formed via videotape stimulus materials. In addition to the three levels of applicant age that were manipulated, the job for which the subjects were told to consider the applicant (assistant director vs. director) and the degree to which subjects were made to feel accountable for their impressions of the job applicant (low vs. high accountability) were manipulated, resulting in a 3 x 2 x 2 between-subjects design. As was predicted, subjects gave more positive evaluations to the 25 year old applicants and more negative evaluations to the older applicants. A predicted interaction between age and accountability, with high accountability fostering more positive evaluations for the young applicants and more negative evaluations for the older applicants, was also found. A number of predicted attributional differences were also shown to exist. The implications of the results and suggestions for future studies in this area of research are discussed.



Employment interviewing, Age discrimination in employment