Racial Prototypicality, Affirmative Action, and Hiring Decisions in a Multiracial World

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Abstract

This research examined how the racial prototypicality of minority job applicants' faces influenced hiring decisions under different affirmative action (AA) policies: no AA, soft AA (recruitment of minorities with merit-based hiring), and hard AA (race as a tie-break factor in hiring). Participants (N=252) evaluated resume/photograph pairs, each containing a Caucasian and a Black applicant, with minority applicants representing three levels of racial prototypicality. The number of jobs awarded to minorities increased as Black racial prototypicality increased. Each level of AA policy strength increased the number of minority hires, but these increases came with a price: AA directives decreased the percentage of minority hires attributed to higher qualifications and increased perceptions that hires were due to AA more than was actually the case.

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