Author

Fei LuFollow

Date of Award

Fall 12-7-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (PhD)

Department

Industrial/Organizational Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Paul Yost, Ph.D.

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Dana Kendall, Ph.D.

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Chris Roenicke, Ph.D.

Keywords

Nudge, mental models, personnel selection, pronouns, diversity

Abstract

Organizations that are historically male-dominated have struggled to attract and retain an equitable representation of women (Debs et al., 2021; Germain et al., 2012; Hall et al., 2018) Using the two systems processing model from Cognitive Psychology, this study assessed whether gender pronouns can function as environmental cues (“nudges”) to disrupt the patterns of mental models on biases and stereotypes. It was proposed that participants can be “nudged” to decrease the impact of gender stereotype biases in the interview process in male-dominated professions (e.g., Information Technology) such that pronouns used in the interview questions will interact with the interviewee’s gender. Results from 1056 participants (Male = 498, Female = 558) revealed that proposed interaction was not supported, indicating that female pronouns did not improve female participants’ selection performance, interviewee engagement and other outcomes, but main effects by gender and by pronoun condition were found to be significant. Across conditions, women scored higher on Situational Judgment Test, used more words in Situational Interviews, while men took a longer time to respond, reported a higher sense of belonging, a higher intent to pursue employment and higher perceived organizational support. Across genders, the “you” condition had a higher score on word count (WTS = 12.57, p < .05) and intent to pursue employment (WTS = 7.1, p < .05). This is indicative that using second person “you” in scenarios may help participants assume the perspective of the agent, thus transcending the problems that may come with third-person pronouns.

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