Department of Social Sciences Seminar Series 2014

5th Mar 2014, 2:00pm - 3:30pm

Social and Psychological Sciences


Possible implicit ethnic bias in the selection of candidates for university posts, and how to combat it – Professor Geoff Beattie, Department of Psychology, Edge Hill University

Despite efforts to deal with the underrepresentation of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff at senior grades in Higher Education, progress to date has been limited.  This seminar will explore one potential explanation, namely  a possible unconscious and implicit bias linked to ethnicity in those making critical shortlisting decisions.  I will outline new empirical research on this topic using the Implicit Association Test (IAT) and eye tracking as an indicator of unconscious processing of relevant material on the CVs of applicants.  In this research participants were presented with matched C.V.s of White and non-White applicants and were instructed to rate the suitability of candidates against two pre-defined job descriptions for positions at the same university (lectureship versus administrative role). Participants were also asked to shortlist two applicants for a subsequent interview, before completing a new multi-ethnic IAT. The new IAT assesses implicit attitudes towards BME groups as a whole, rather than focusing exclusively on a single ethnic minority. Evidence of implicit bias was observed in the IAT scores and in the White participants showing an own-race bias in terms of the proportion of Whites that they shortlisted for the academic post, but interestingly not the administrative position. The research revealed that implicit measures were a better predictor than explicit measures of actual shortlisting decisions.  The eye tracking measures revealed a bias in attentional focus when participants considered the CVs of candidates from a different ethnic background to themselves.  The potential policy implications of this research on implicit bias will also be discussed.

No need to book just drop in.  For further information please email Paul Reynolds