Aversive discrimination in employment interviews: Reducing effects of sexual orientation bias with accountability


The effects of egalitarian hiring norms and accountability on ratings of gay and nongay job applicants were explored using theories of aversive discrimination. Participants (n = 311) from a Midwestern university rated a video interview of a moderately performing department head job applicant (gay man or nongay man) after receiving information about the position. Participants were randomly assigned to be given additional information about job-relatedness and affirmative action procedures or not (egalitarian norms), and were then told they would or would not have to explain their ratings (accountability). Consistent with aversive discrimination theory, participants rated the gay applicant less positively than the nongay applicant irrespective of self-reported and implicit heterosexist attitudes. Bias favoring the heterosexual applicant was found in the no accountability condition but no differences were seen between the gay and nongay applicant in the accountability condition. Our study did not find support of the effect of training focusing on egalitarian norms on bias in ratings. Organizations should recognize the potential bias that targets gay applicants and consider methods to incorporate accountability in order to mitigate discriminatory hiring practices.



Document Type





Aversive discrimination, Egalitarian norms, Implicit bias, Sexual orientation

Publication Date


Journal Title

Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity