'Merit-based hiring' might be 'unfair': American Psychological Association

Posted 24 days ago


The American Psychological Association claimed that "[h]iring the most qualified candidate might be unfair" based on one of its recent studies.

The study, titled "Can Selecting the Most Qualified Candidate Be Unfair?," examined people’s perceptions of merit-based hiring after learning more about the socioeconomic status of potential workers. While previewing the results, it argued that hiring the most qualified candidate could contribute to more inequality.

"Fairness heuristic theory suggests that, as long as people consider selection processes such as hiring and promotion to be meritocratic and fair, they may continue to accept ever-increasing levels of income inequality. Yet, in reality, inequality and merit-based decisions are deeply intertwined," the study noted.

It explained, "Socioeconomic advantages and disadvantages early in life can have profound influences on educational achievement, test scores, work experiences, and other qualifications that form the basis of ‘meritocratic’ selection processes. Yet the near-universal support for meritocracy suggests that most people may not give much weight to unequal advantages and disadvantages."

The study was conducted across five different experiments. Each experiment found that respondents across the political spectrum were more likely to support "social class diversity" after being told about the economic advantages or disadvantages of candidates.

"In our work, we show that it does not take much for people to update their fairness perceptions of meritocracy and be more supportive of polices that foster social class diversity in organizations," the study read.... (Read more)