Tag Archives: Bias

How Much Does Appearance Matter?

Linda A. Jackson

Perceived attractiveness was correlated with perceived competence and likeability in a meta-analysis by Michigan State University’s Linda A. Jackson, John E. Hunter, and Carole N. Hodge.
Physically attractive people were seen as more intellectually competent.

Nancy Etcoff

Similarly, women who wore cosmetics were rated more highly on attractiveness, competence, likeability and trustworthiness when viewed for as little as 250 milliseconds in research by Harvard’s Nancy L. Etcoff, Lauren E. Haley, and David M. House, with Shannon Stock of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Proctor & Gamble’s Sarah A. Vickery.

Models without makeup, with natural, professional, “glamorous” makeup

However, when participants looked at the faces for a longer time, ratings for competence and attractiveness remained the same, but ratings for likeability and trustworthiness changed based on specific makeup looks.

Etcoff’s team concluded that cosmetics could influence automatic judgments because attractiveness “rivets attention, and impels actions that help ensure the survival of our genes.”

Most people recognize the bias in assuming that attractive people are competent and that unattractive people are not, yet impression management remains crucial in the workplace and in the political arena.

-*Where have you seen appearance exert an influence in workplace credibility, decision-making and role advancement?

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Women Who Express Anger Seen as Less Influential

Jessica Salerno

Jessica Salerno

Women who expressed anger were less likely to influence their peers in computer-mediated mock jury proceedings, found Arizona State University’s Jessica Salerno and Liana Peter-Hagene of University of Illinois. 

Liana Peter-Hagene

Liana Peter-Hagene

More than 200 U.S. jury-eligible volunteers reviewed opening arguments and closing statements, eyewitness testimonies, crime scene photographs, and an image of the alleged weapon in a homicide.

Participants made individual verdict choices, then exchanged instant messages by computer, with “peers” who were said to be “deliberating their verdict decisions.”

In fact, “peer” messages were scripted, with four of the fictional jurors agreeing with the participant’s verdict, and one disagreeing.
The dissenting participant had a male user name or a female user name or a gender-neutral name.

Victoria Brescoll

Victoria Brescoll

Half of the dissenting messages contained no emotion, anger, or fear, and these communications had no influence on participants’ opinions.

However, participants’ confidence in their verdict decision significantly dropped when a single “male dissenter” sent angry messages, characterized by “shouting” in all capital letters.
Confidence in the verdict decision dropped even when the vote was shared by the majority of other “jurors.”
This finding suggests the persuasive impact of a single male dissenter’s angry communication.

In contrast, volunteers became more confident in their initial verdict decisions when their vote was echoed by the majority of other participants.

This confidence was was maintained when a single female dissenter responded with angry emotional message, suggesting that “female” anger was less influential than “male” anger.

Eric Luis Uhlmann

Eric Luis Uhlmann

Male and female evaluators conferred lower status on angry female professionals compared with angry male professionals in research by Yale University’s Victoria Brescoll and Eric Luis Uhlmann, now of INSEAD.
Evaluators assigned lower status to female CEOs and to female trainees when they expressed anger.

Kristi Lewis Tyran

Kristi Lewis Tyran

Men who expressed anger in a professional context were conferred higher status than men who expressed sadness.
Likewise, women who expressed anger and sadness were rated less effective than women who shared no emotion, according to Kristi Lewis Tyran of Western Washington University.

Evaluators judged men’s angry reactions more generously, attributing these emotional expressions to external circumstances, such as experiencing pressure and demands from others.

These differing judgments of emotional expression suggest that women’s anger is more harshly evaluated because anger expressions deviate from women’s expected societal, gender, and cultural norms.

-*What impacts and consequences have you observed for women and men who express anger at work?

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Attractive Men May Appear Competent, But May Not Be Hired

Sun Young Lee

Sun Young Lee

Previous blog posts documented bias favouring attractive people for hiring, venture funding, and positive impressions by others.

Capable but less attractive individuals may encounter “workplace attractiveness discrimination,” reported Sun Young Lee of University College London, University of Maryland’s Marko Pitesa, Madan Pillutla of London Business School, and INSEAD’s Stefan Thau.

Marko Pitesa

Marko Pitesa

Their studies found that people making employment decisions show systematic selection bias based on perceived attractiveness and also on organizational context.

This can occur when observers associate unrelated characteristics (gender, ethnicity, national origin, attractiveness) with expectations for work performance (“status generalization”).

Murray Webster

Murray Webster

These assumptions may occur without conscious awareness or evidence, and can result in group inequalities, according to University of South Carolina’s Murray Webster and Martha Foschi.

James Driskell

James Driskell

In addition, these “status characteristics” significantly affected face-to-face interactions in group task experiments by Webster and University of South Carolina colleague James Driskell.

Martha Foschi

Martha Fosch

Likewise, decision makers associated attractiveness with competence in male candidates but not in female candidates in one of Lee’s studies.

People’s actions influenced by perceived attractiveness are examples of “interpersonal interdependence,” according to UCLA’s Harold Kelley and John Thibaut of University of North Carolina.

John Thibault

John Thibault

Lee’s group tested interpersonal interdependence and attractiveness by assigning male and female volunteers to simulated employment selection situations.
Participants “interviewed” and provided “hiring recommendations” for “job candidates.”
Interviewers were told they would be collaborating for shared team rewards BUT competing for recognition, promotions, commissions, and bonuses.

Madan Pillutla

Madan Pillutla

Volunteers evaluated two similar resumes accompanied by photos of an “attractive” applicant and an “unattractive” candidate.
Next, assessors answered questions about the person’s competence, likely impact on the rater’s success, and their likelihood of recommending the candidate for the position.

When the decision-maker expected to cooperate with the candidate, male candidates who were perceived as more attractive were also:

-judged as more competent,
-seen as more likely to enable the evaluator’s career success,
-more frequently recommended for employment.

Stefan Thau

Stefan Thau

However, when decision makers expected to compete with the candidate, attractive male candidates were rates as less capable.
Evaluators less frequently recommended attractive male candidates for employment, suggesting a systematic bias to preserve the evaluator’s place in the workplace hierarchy.

Attractive and unattractive female candidates were judged as equally competent, but attractive male candidates were rated as much more competent than unattractive male candidates.

Subsequent studies provided evaluators with candidates’ age, race, education and headshot to consider in selecting their competitor or collaborator in a tournament task.
Decision-makers generally preferred attractive male or female candidates unless their personal outcomes were affected by the selection decision.

These studies suggest that attractiveness discrimination is “calculated self-interested behavior” in which men sometimes discriminate in favor and sometimes against attractive males.

-*How do you align with “calculated self-interest behavior” to mitigate bias?

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Plastic Surgery Changes Perceived Personality Traits

Michael J. Reilly

Michael J. Reilly

People often infer others’ personality attributes from visual cues, called facial profiling by Georgetown University Hospital’s Michael J. Reilly, Jaclyn A. Tomsic and Steven P. Davison, collaborating with Stephen J. Fernandez of MedStar Health Research Institute.
This cognitive shortcut can lead to biased impressions and limited opportunities for those unfavorably judged.

Jaclyn A. Tomsic

Jaclyn A. Tomsic

These researchers asked raters to evaluate photographs of 30 different women shown with neutral facial expressions.

Each rater judged 10 images, including five (5) photographs before the person had plastic surgery procedures and five (5) images following surgical procedures including:

  • Chin implant,
  • Eyebrow-lift,
  • Lower blepharoplasty (lower eye lift),
  • Upper blepharoplasty (upper eye lift),
  • Neck-lift,
  • Rhytidectomy (face-lift).

Michael Reilly-Preoperative-Postoperative photos

These procedures resulted in cosmetic improvements to eyes and mouth, two regions crucial to expressing and interpreting emotions.

The raters were not informed that some people in the photos had plastic surgery procedures, and they were asked to evaluate each photograph on a 7-point scale for perceived:

  • Aggressiveness,
  • Extroversion,
  • Likeability,
  • Risk-seeking,
  • Social skills,
  • Trustworthiness,
  • Attractiveness.

Michael Reilly - Pre-Post 2Raters assigned higher scores for likeability, social skills, attractiveness, and femininity to the images following plastic surgery compared with pre-surgery image ratings.

The research team concluded:
“The eyes are highly diagnostic for attractiveness as well as for trustworthiness…patients undergoing lower (eyelid surgery) were found to be significantly more attractive and feminine, and had … improved trustworthiness...

“The corner of the mouth is … diagnostic … for … happy and surprised expressions and …  the perception of personality traits, such as extroversion.

“…upturn of the mouth and fullness in the cheeks can make a person look more intelligent and socially skilled.

“… patients undergoing a facelift procedure … are found to be significantly more likeable and socially skilled postoperatively.”

Volunteers in a different study attributed personality traits to neutral faces when they perceived a similarity to standard emotional expressions, reported Princeton’s Christopher P. Said and Alexander Todorov with Nicu Sebe of University of Trento.

Christopher P. Said

Christopher P. Said

Neutral faces that were rated as positive resembled typical facial expressions of happiness, whereas faces seen as negative resembled facial displays of disgust and fear.

Faces viewed as threatening resembled facial expressions of anger.
These trait inferences resulted from overgeneralization in emotion recognition systems.

Nicu Sebe

Nicu Sebe

Faces that resemble typical emotional expressions can lead to misattributed personality traits and biased impressions.

However, these judgments can change for the better after plastic surgery.

-*To what extent do people’s personality traits seems different following plastic surgery?

-*How often are people treated differently following plastic surgery?

*What are ways to avoid confusing emotional expressions with personality traits?

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Reputation Affects Women’s Promotion, Earnings

Lily Fang

Lily Fang

Sterling Huang

Men gain greater reputation and job performance benefits from professional connections than women with equivalent or better education and job skills, according to INSEAD’s Lily Fang and Sterling Huang of Singapore Management University

Lauren Cohen

Lauren Cohen

Fang and Huang examined U.S. equity analysts’ alumni connections with company senior officers and board members, using an approach pioneered by Harvard’s Lauren Cohen, and Christopher Malloy with Andrea Frazzini, of AQR Capital Management.

Christopher Malloy

They considered analysts’:

  • Year-end earnings per share (EPS) forecasts,
  • Buy-stock recommendations from 1993 to 2009,
  • Price impact of their recommendations,
  • Selection to “All America Research Team” (AA) by Institutional Investor magazine during the same period.
    Selection to AA is based on the institutional investors’ subjective evaluation of each analyst’s industry knowledge, communication, responsiveness, and written reports.
Andrea Frazzini

Andrea Frazzini

Forecast accuracy is one of the least important selection criteria.
Therefore, skillful analysts may be not be selected if they are not visible and well-regarded by decision-makers.

Connections directly contributed to male analysts’ likelihood of being named to the  “All America Research Team” (AA).
This relationship did not hold for female analysts, and this difference leads to significant financial consequences for male and female analysts:  AA team members earned three times more than non-team analysts.

About 25% of all analysts shared a school tie with a senior officer or board member in the firms they cover, and these connections improved men’s forecast accuracy significantly more than women’s.
These connections also improved the impact of male analysts’ stock recommendations, measured by market reaction to their buy and sell calls.

Female analysts with a connection to a female executive at covered firms significantly improved their ranking accuracy, yet male analysts with a male connection improved their ranking accuracy almost twice as much.

Herminia Ibarra

Herminia IbarraThis different impact of similar connections early in women’s and men’s careers could explain gender gaps that exist throughout career trajectories.

Herminia Ibarra’s similar results for men and women in an advertising firm demonstrated that men capitalized on network ties to improve their employment positions.

Women may remain in analytical roles even if they are capable of executive roles because promotion to General Manager roles depends on subjective evaluations by current decision makers, who are usually men.

Fang and Huang concluded that men and women may be evaluated using different subjective criteria, resulting in differential career advancement for women and men.

Ronald Burt

Ronald Burt

Career-related social connections (“social capital”) studied by Fang and Huang are affected by legitimacy, reputation, and network structures, argued University of Chicago’s Ronald Burt.
He suggested that “holes” in a social network are entrepreneurial opportunities to add value, and women who fill network holes increase their possibility of advancement.

Burt noted limitations to this approach:  “…entrepreneurial networks linked to early promotion for senior men do not work for women because women are not accepted as legitimate members of the population of highly promotable candidates.

He noted that women and minorities succeed by leveraging the network of legitimate strategic partners, suggesting the importance of sponsors for underrepresented groups. 

-How do you identify and fill “structural holes in social capital networks”?

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Nothing to Lose: Effective Negotiating Even When “Powerless”

Michael Schaerer

Most negotiators prefer to have a “fall back position.”
However, having no alternatives and less power than co-negotiators can improve outcomes, found INSEAD’s Michael Schaerer and Roderick Swaab with Adam Galinsky of Columbia.

When an alternative is weak, it can undermine negotiating outcomes.
An alternative can establish ananchor point, a frequent cognitive bias characterized by overvaluing one piece of information, according to Hebrew University’s late Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman of Princeton.

Adam Galinsky

Adam Galinsky

People with weak alternatives often make lower first offers than negotiators with no alternative.
“Lowball” first offers usually undermine a negotiator’s final outcome.

Professional athletes and their agents provide examples of negotiating better deals when they have no “back up” offers and “nothing to lose.”  They can set ambitious anchor points, and may arrive at a more favourable settlement.

Amos Tversky

Amos Tversky

Schaerer and team asked a hundred people whether they would prefer to negotiate a job offer with a weak alternative or without any alternative.
More than 90 percent of participants preferred an unattractive alternative offer, confirming the assumption that any alternative is  better than no alternative.

Schaerer asked volunteers to imagine trying to sell previously-owned music in one of three conditions when they had:

  • No offers (no alternative),
  • One offer at USD $2 (weak alternative),
  • A bid at USD $8 (strong alternative).

Roderick Swaab

Roderick Swaab

Volunteers in each group proposed a first offer, and rated the degree of power they felt.
People with the “strong” alternative felt the most powerful and those with no alternative felt the least powerful.

Volunteers with a weak alternative felt more powerful than those with no alternative, but they made lower first offers.
This signaled that they had less confidence than participants with no alternative.
Conclusion: Having any alternative can help people feel powerful but can undermine negotiation performance.

Schaerer’s team investigated by pairing a  “seller,” who offered to sell a coffee mug to a potential “buyer.”

Before meeting, the seller received a phone call from “another buyer,” who was a confederate of the researchers.
The potential buyer either made a low offer for half of the sellers or declined to bid for the remaining sellers.

Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman

Sellers without an alternative offer said they felt less powerful, but made higher first offers and received significantly higher sales prices than negotiators with an unattractive alternative.

In another situation, half of the “sellers” concentrated on available alternatives (none, weak, or strong) and the remaining negotiators focused on the target price.

Volunteers with unappealing alternatives negotiated worse deals than those with no options when they focused on alternatives.
“Sellers” avoided this pitfall by concentrating on the target price.
Conclusion:  Focus on the goal when alternatives are weak.

Negotiators with non-existent or unappealing alternatives can set audacious goals and make an ambitious opening offer because they have the benefit of “nothing to lose.”
This strategy usually renders better results for the disadvantaged negotiator.

  • How do you overcome lowball anchoring when you have few negotiation alternatives?

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Precise Negotiation Offers Yield Better Bargaining Results

Malia F Mason

Malia F Mason

Opening negotiation offers usually anchor the discussion and shape settlement values.
Many people make opening offers in “round” numbers like $10 instead of “precise” numbers like $9.
This strategy rendered less effective results in negotiation experiments, reported Columbia’s Malia Mason, Alice J. Lee, Elizabeth A. Wiley, and Daniel Ames.

Y Charles Zhang

Y Charles Zhang

Negotiators can improve negotiation outcomes by specifying offers in precise values because they more potently anchored the negotiation range.
In addition, negotiators who proposed precise offers were perceived as more confident, credible, and “well-informed” regarding actual value.

Norbert Schwartz

Norbert Schwartz

Consumers reported less confidence in precise estimates when they doubt the communicator, found University of Michigan’s Y. Charles Zhang and Norbert Schwarz of University of Southern California.

Some recipients of precise offers view these proposals by their negotiation partners as “inflexible.
However, recipients of precise offers made more conciliatory counter-offers with smaller adjustments and more favorable final settlements.
Precise offers were associated with more favorable final deals even when the negotiator opened with a less ambitious precise offer.

Martin Schweinsberg

Martin Schweinsberg

Precise offers are less likely to be seen as aggressive by a co-negotiator, according to INSEAD’s Martin Schweinsberg collaborating with Gillian Ku and Madan M. Pillutla of London Business School’s and Cynthia S. Wang of Oklahoma State University.
Ambitious first offers may stall progress toward settlement if a negotiation partner takes offense.

Gillian Ku

Gillian Ku

This risk of stalemated negotiation increases if negotiators see themselves in a lower-power position and receive an extreme offer.
These negotiators may be more willing to end negotiations,

Manoj Thomas

Manoj Thomas

Precise offers can obscure their actual value, noted Cornell’s Manoj Thomas and Vrinda Kadiyali with Daniel H. Simon of Indiana University.
Buyers underestimated the size of precise prices, particularly under uncertain conditions:  U.S. homebuyers paid more when list prices were precise.

Vrinda Kadiyali

Vrinda Kadiyali

Precise offers provide some of the benefits of favorably anchoring negotiation discussions while reducing risks of “offensive” extreme offers.

-*How effective have you found “precise” opening offers in achieving your negotiation goals?

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Acknowledge Potential Employer “Concerns” about Gender, Attractiveness to Get Job Offer

Although physically attractive people enjoy the advantage of others’ positive impressions, women applying for jobs in traditionally male jobs may be disadvantaged by female gender and attractive appearance.

Madeline Heilman

Madeline Heilman

The “beauty is beastly effect” is a hiring bias favoring men or less attractive women for “masculine” jobs, described by Yale University’s Madeline E. Heilman and Lois R. Saruwatari.

Lois Suruwatari

Lois Suruwatari

They found that attractiveness was an advantage for men seeking managerial and non-managerial roles, but attractive women had an advantage only when seeking lower-level, non-managerial roles.

Michelle Hebl

Michelle Hebl

Attractiveness and gender can be considered a “stigma,” just as disability, obesity, and race.
Rice University’s Michelle R. Hebl and Robert E. Kleck of Dartmouth College reported that people in these categories can reduce hiring biases by acknowledging their “stigmatizing” characteristic during the interview.

Robert Kleck

Robert Kleck

Women who proactively addressed the employers potential concern about gender or appearance in a traditionally male role were rated higher in employment suitability in a study by University or Colorado’s Stefanie K. Johnson and Traci Sitzmann, with Anh Thuy Nguyen of Illinois Institute of Technology.

This proactive approach buffered the impact “hostile sexism” while increasing “benevolent sexism’s” link to employment suitability ratings.

Stefanie Johnson

Stefanie Johnson

Evaluators said they assumed that these candidates possessed more “masculine” traits than other female candidates.
These assessors were less likely to negatively evaluate these women for behaving in contrast to traditional gender role norms.

Traci Sitzmann

Traci Sitzmann.

-*How effective you found “pre-emptive objection-handling” in workplace negotiations?

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Creating Productive Thought Patterns through “Thought Self-Leadership”

Albert Ellis

Albert Ellis

Leaders’ actions actions are influenced by internal commentaries.
Often, these thoughts are self-critical and provoke anxiety.

Aaron Beck

Aaron Beck

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), developed by University of Pennsylvania’s Aaron Beck, provides a systematic way to restructure “irrational self-talk“,  as do Albert Ellis‘s Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (RET), and David Burnssynthesis of CBT and RET.

David Burns

David Burns

Arizona State University’s Charles Manz and Chris Neck  translated these self-management concepts to managerial development.
They outlined a Thought Self-Leadership Procedure as a five-step feedback loop:

Charles Manz

Charles Manz

1. Observe and record thoughts,
2. Analyze thoughts,
3. Develop new thoughts,
4. Substitute new thoughts,
5. Monitor and Maintain new, more productive thoughts.

-*What practices do you use to develop and apply productive thought patterns?

©Kathryn Welds

Negotiation Drama: Strategic Umbrage, Line-Crossing Illusion, and Assertiveness Biases

Daniel R Ames

Daniel R Ames

Negotiation assertiveness style can determine success in bargaining, according to Columbia University’s Daniel Ames and Abbie Wazlawek.

Abbie Wazlawek

Abbie Wazlawek

This finding builds on Ames’ previous research with Stanford’s Frank Flynn that demonstrated moderate levels of assertiveness are associated with career advancement, and with effective negotiation and influence in conflict situations.
They also found that observers provided consistent ratings of managerial under-assertiveness and over-assertiveness.

Francis Flynn

Francis Flynn

However they noted that most people do not accurately assess others’ view of their assertiveness in specific situations.
Over-assertive individuals tend to have less-accurate self-perception than less assertive people, and both groups experience “self-awareness blindness.

These inaccurate self-perceptions may develop from polite yet inaccurate feedback from other people.

More than 80% of participants reported that they had expressed greater objections than they actually felt to influence the negotiation, and said they observed similarly exaggerated objections by their negotiation partners.

Daniel Ames Assertiveness

Self-awareness resulted in most favorable negotiation outcomes: More than 80% of negotiators rated by others and by themselves as “appropriately assertive in the situation” negotiated greatest value to both parties.

Ames Assertiveness U Curve
When negotiation partners misperceive others’ view of their strategic umbrage displays, Ames and Wazlawek called this experience the line-crossing illusion.

This mismatch between negotiation partners’ ratings of appropriate assertiveness was linked with poorer negotiation outcomes:  Nearly 60% of negotiators who were rated as appropriately assertive but felt over-assertive (line-crossing illusion) negotiated the inferior deals for themselves and their counterparts.

This finding suggests that disingenuous emotional displays of strategic umbrage lead negotiation partners to seek the first acceptable deal, rather than pushing for an optimal deal.

Jeffrey Kern

Jeffrey Kern

To improve accuracy of perception of other people’s impression of one’s own assertiveness style (“meta-perception“), Ames and Wazlawek suggested:

-Participate in 360 degree feedback,

-Increase skill in listening for content and meaning,

Consider whether negotiation proposals are reasonable in light of alternatives,

-Request feedback on reactions to “strategic umbrage” displays to better understand perceptions of “offer reasonableness,

-Evaluate costs and benefits of specific assertiveness styles.

Gary Yukl

Over-assertiveness may provide the benefit of “claiming value” in a negotiation but may lead to ruptured interpersonal relationships, according to Jeffrey M. Kern of Texas A&M, SUNY’s Cecilia Falbe and Gary Yukl.

Cultural norms for assertiveness regulation in “low context” cultures like Israel, where dramatic displays are frequent and expected in negotiations.
In contrast, “high context” cultures like Japan, require more nuanced assertiveness, with fewer direct disagreements and “strategic umbrage” displays, according to Edward T. Hall, then of the U.S. Department of State.

Edward T Hall

Edward T Hall

Under-assertiveness may minimize interpersonal conflict, but may lead to poorer negotiation outcomes and undermined credibility in future interactions, according to Ames’ related research.

To augment a less assertiveness style, he suggested:

  • Set slightly higher goals,
  • Reconsider assumptions that greater assertion leads to conflict,
  • Consider that proactivity may lead to increased respect and improved outcomes,
  • Assess the outcome of collaborating with more assertive others.

To modulate a more assertiveness style:

  • Make slight concessions to increase trust with others,
  • Observe and evaluate the impact of collaborating with less assertive others.

The line-crossing illusion is an example of a self-perception bias in which personal ratings of behavior may not match other people’s perceptions, and others’ behaviors can reduce one’s own confidence and assertiveness.

*How do you reduce the risk of developing the line-crossing illusion in response to other people’s displays of “strategic umbrage”?

*How do you match your degree of assertiveness to negotiation situations?

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