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2016 Adverse Impact Reduction Research Initiative and Action (AIRRIA) Research Grant

For examining new approaches in the study of adverse impact, Kristine M. Kuhn (Washington State University) is the 2016 AIRRIA Grant winner for her research “Regulatory Focus and the Effects of Background Reports on Evaluations of Job Candidates.”

Criminal and credit history information, even when of questionable job relevance, can stigmatize job seekers. Three hiring simulation experiments test regulatory focus as a moderator of this effect on the judgments of the general public and of people experienced in making hiring decisions.  Inducing a prevention focus makes decision makers less inclined to interview well-qualified applicants with background report transgressions (Studies 1 and 2), whereas a promotion focus negatively affects attraction to less qualified applicants (Study 1).  Decision makers who place greater weight on promotion-focused selection goals are more likely to prefer hiring well-qualified applicants with transgressions relative to less qualified applicants without such stigma, although regulatory focus does not affect their predictions of applicant behavior (Study 3).  Delaying presentation of transgression-containing background reports until after initial favorable applicant impressions have been formed lowers attraction (Study 2), although delaying acknowledgement of transgressions until a subsequent interview stage that includes novel positive information does not (Study 3).  These results go beyond simply showing that criminal and financial stigmas harm employment prospects to demonstrate that situational factors under organizational control shape their evaluative impact­­­.  Implications for improving background check implementation are discussed.

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