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Sociolinguistic Cues, Perceived Race, And Employment Selection Outcomes: An Exploration Of The Aversive Racism Framework
Cocchiara, Faye K
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The limited number of available positions to job candidates has led to increased competitiveness among job seekers and the development of new and more efficient employment screening methods by human resources personnel. As a result, job candidates are likely to participate in a telephone interview at some point during the selection process. It is during these interviews that important perceptions about employment potential are made. A number of factors influence perceptions about the future potential of job candidates. In the absence of face-to-face interaction, decision makers may rely on how candidates sound over the telephone to make judgments about the type of employee he or she will make and whether, if selected, the candidate has potential for moving up in the organization. Telephone interviews may increase the potential for decision makers to discriminate in the employment screening process based on biases formed from factors unrelated to the job. Candidates themselves may unknowingly contribute to the formation of such biases by exhibiting characteristics that cause decision makers to question their abilities to perform a job (e.g., Bertrand & Mullainathan, 2004). One such characteristic may be a job candidate's dialect (e.g., how he or she sounds over the telephone) and the social stereotypes that decision makers associate with such dialects. This dissertation investigated <em>a priori</em> belief structures and sociolinguistic cues about race and their potential to bias the employment selection process in the absence of face-to-face interaction. Using a laboratory experiment with manipulations of dialect, qualifications, and behavioral norms, the study found 1) that evaluators accurately perceived race from dialect approximately 89% of the time, and 2) evaluators rated individuals who used African American Vernacular English (AAVE) dialect significantly lower on employment selection outcomes than they did individuals who used Standard English (SE) dialect.