June 27, 2019

15:30 – 17:00

Room: D-301

Speaker: Dr. David Santos (Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences)

Title:Decisions about Job Candidates in Personal Selection Settings: The Importance of Objective and Subjective Knowledge (joint work with Borja Paredes, Pablo Briñol and Richard Petty)



Amount of knowledge is an important indicator of attitude strength. Research has shown that individuals with more knowledge about their evaluations show higher levels of attitude-behavior consistency, and are more resistant to counter-attitudinal information compared to those with less knowledge. Although these findings have been shown in a variety of domains, one might anticipate a more tenuous relationship within the context of personnel selection given a number of reasons, including that job interviews are a context known to involve implicit deception. Thus, we sought to empirically examine how amount of knowledge influences attitudes and attitude strength within the context of job interviews. In Study 1, medical professionals were interviewed by personnel selection professionals (PSP) for real jobs. Interviews were conducted in-person using a fixed set of questions presented in the same order for every candidate. After each interview, the PSP reported their perceived amount of knowledge, attitude, and intentions to recruit the job candidate. Study 2 experimentally manipulated amount of knowledge (vs. measuring as in Study 1) by presenting experimental participants with an interview transcript containing either a high (vs. low) amount of information about a job candidate. Next, participants reported their attitude toward the candidate and completed attitude strength relevant measures (e.g., attitude certainty). Study 3 used similar procedures as Study 2, and also included a counter-attitudinal message to gauge resistance as an objective measure of attitude strength. Study 4 experimentally manipulated both objective and subjective knowledge in order to assess their relative contribution. Objective knowledge was manipulated as in Study 2 and 3. Subjective knowledge was manipulated by leading participants to believe that the interview transcript was either only 10% or almost 90% of the total interview. Across four studies, our research demonstrated that having more (vs. less) information does not affect participants’ attitude toward the job candidate. However, it does affect participants’ perceived attitude strength and objective attitude strength (i.e., prediction of behavior, resistance to change). Specifically, participants who received a high amount of information perceived their attitudes to be stronger (e.g., more certain) attitudes than those who received a low amount of information.  Also, attitudes based on high knowledge predicted intentions to hire better than attitudes based on low knowledge. Moreover, Study 3 demonstrated that amount of information differentially influenced resistance to a counter-attitudinal persuasive message. The final study suggested that this effect was strongest when people knew that they knew (e.g., under high objective and subjective knowledge). The results of the final study also suggested that when people think that they do not know enough (low subjective knowledge) the effect of objective knowledge observed throughout studies was attenuated. In sum, this research shows that thinking that one has more (vs. less) information about an actual job candidate leads people to rely on their evaluations more when making a hiring decision.


attitude strength, amount of information, subjective vs. objective knowledge, personnel selection

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