Tools for fairness: Increased structure in the selection process reduces discrimination

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Employment discrimination causes problems at the labor market, and is hard to combat. Can increasing the degree of structure when selecting applicants increase fairness? Students were asked to perform a computerized selection task and were either provided with tools for systematizing information about the applicants (structured selection) or no such tools (unstructured selection). We hypothesized and found that a structured process, where employing recruitment tools rather than the recruiter’s impressionistic judgment is key, improves the ability to identify job-relevant criteria and hence selecting more qualified applicants, even when in-group favoritism is tempting (e.g. when the outgroup applicants are more competent). Increasing structure helped recruiters select more competent applicants and reduced ethnic discrimination. Increasing the motivation to carefully follow the structured procedure strengthened these effects further. We conclude that structure pays off, and that motivational factors should be taken into account in order for it to have the optimal effect.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)


  • personnel selection, recruitment, structure, systematicity, discrimination, ethnicity, Middle-East, organizational psychology
Original languageEnglish
Article number e0189512
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS ONE
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 11
Publication categoryResearch