The Role of Expected Interdependence in Selection Decisions



I integrate stereotype fit and interdependence theories to propose a model explaining how and why decision makers discriminate in selection decisions. My model suggests that decision makers draw on stereotypes about members of different social groups to infer the candidates’ level of ability required for the task. Decision makers perceive candidates having a greater ability required for the task as less instrumental to their personal outcomes if they expect to compete with the candidate, but more instrumental if they expect to cooperate with the candidate. The candidates who are perceived as more instrumental to decision makers are more likely to be discriminated in favour of.

We tested our theory in the context of racial (Studies 1–3) and age (Study 4) discrimination in selection decisions and found evidence consistent with our predictions. By explaining when and why decision makers discriminate in favor of but also against members of their own social group, this research may help explain the mixed support for the dominant view that decision makers exhibit favouritism toward candidates belonging to the same social group. In addition, our research demonstrates the importance of considering the largely overlooked role of interdependent relationships within the organization for understanding how and why people discriminate in selection decisions.