Age-Based Hiring Discrimination as a Function of Equity Norms and Self-Perceived Objectivity

13 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2012

See all articles by Nicole Lindner

Nicole Lindner

California State University, Long Beach

Brian A. Nosek

University of Virginia

Alexander Graser

University of Regensburg; Hertie School of Governance

Date Written: May 31, 2012


We investigated whether age-based hiring discrimination was influenced by self-perceived objectivity, which has been shown to increase gender discrimination. We extended past research by examining whether individuals who thought of themselves as being imperfectly objective would be less likely to discriminate based on age. We also investigated whether equity norms reduced age discrimination, by manipulating the presence or absence of an equity statement reminding decision-makers of the legal prohibitions against discrimination “on the basis of age, disability, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, or sex.” Participants completed a questionnaire priming them to perceive themselves and their decision-making as either objective or biased, either before evaluating a young or old job applicant or after (control condition). The presence of equity norms increased enthusiasm for both young and old applicants when participants were not already primed to think of themselves as objective, but did not reduce age-based hiring discrimination; equity norms had no effect when individuals thought of themselves as objective – they preferred the younger more than the older job applicant. However, the presence of equity norms did affect individuals’ perceptions of which factors were important to their hiring decisions, increasing the perceived importance of applicants’ expertise and decreasing the perceived importance of the applicants’ age. The results suggest that interventions that rely exclusively on decision-makers' intentions to behave equitably may be ineffective.

Keywords: age discrimination, age bias, equity norms, objectivity, hiring, self-perception

Suggested Citation

Lindner, Nicole and Nosek, Brian A. and Graser, Alexander, Age-Based Hiring Discrimination as a Function of Equity Norms and Self-Perceived Objectivity (May 31, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Nicole Lindner (Contact Author)

California State University, Long Beach ( email )

1250 Bellflower Blvd
Long Beach, CA 90064
United States

Brian A. Nosek

University of Virginia ( email )

1400 University Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Alexander Graser

University of Regensburg ( email )

93040 Regensburg
D-93040 Regensburg, 93053

Hertie School of Governance

Schlossplatz 1
Berlin, 10178

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