Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Narrow imaginations: how narrowly imagining white employees can lead to biased hiring practices

When people make important decision, such as selecting a job candidate or graduate applicant, they often begin by imagining the ideal candidate and evaluating applicants based on how well they fit with that imagined ideal. In two experiments we provided evidence that imagining the ideal has unintended consequences. Imagining an ideal candidate for a professional job led participants to preferentially imagine a White candidate (Experiment 1) and to preferentially hire a White candidate over a Black candidate with matched qualifications (Experiment 2). These effects were independent of explicit prejudice, suggesting that even low-prejudice individuals may be affected by this bias. However, an alternative imagery strategy - imagining a variety of suitable applicants - was effective at remediating the bias. In some cases discrimination may result not from prejudiced attitudes but from failures of the imagination.