Reviewing Applicants: Research on Bias and Assumptions

We all like to think that we are objective scholars who judge people solely on their credentials and achievements, but copious research shows that every one of us has a lifetime of experience and cultural history that shapes the review process.

The results from controlled research studies demonstrate that people often hold implicit or unconscious assumptions that influence their judgments. Examples range from expectations or assumptions about physical or social characteristics associated with race, gender, and ethnicity to those associated with certain job descriptions, academic institutions, and fields of study.

It is important to note that in most studies examining evaluation and gender, the sex of the evaluator was not significant; both men and women share and apply the same assumptions about gender.

Recognizing biases and other influences not related to the quality of candidates can help reduce their impact on your search and review of candidates.