The Generalizability of Gender Bias: Testing the Effects of Contextual, Explicit, and Implicit Sexism on Labor Arbitration Decisions

53 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2015 Last revised: 30 Dec 2015

See all articles by Erik James Girvan

Erik James Girvan

University of Oregon School of Law

Grace M. Deason

University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

Eugene Borgida

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Date Written: April 17, 2015

Abstract

Decades of social-psychological research show that gender bias can result from features of the social context and from individual-level psychological predispositions. Do these sources of bias impact legal decisions, which are frequently made by people subject to factors that have been proposed to reduce bias (training and accountability)? To answer the question, we examined the potential for three major social-psychological theories of gender bias (role-congruity theory, ambivalent sexism, and implicit bias) to predict outcomes of labor arbitration decisions. In the first study, undergraduate students and professional arbitrators made decisions about two mock arbitration cases in which the gender of the employee-grievants was experimentally manipulated. Student participants' decisions showed the predicted gender bias, whereas the decisions of experienced professionals did not. Individual-level attitudes did not predict the extent of the observed bias and accountability did not attenuate it. In the second study, arbitrators’ explicit and implicit gender attitudes were significant predictors of their decisions in published cases. The laboratory and field results suggest that context, expertise, and implicit and explicit attitudes are relevant to legal decision-making, but that laboratory experiments alone may not fully capture the nature of their effect on legal professionals’ decisions in real cases.

Keywords: implicit bias, ambivalent sexism, expertise, accountability, arbitration

Suggested Citation

Girvan, Erik James and Deason, Grace M. and Borgida, Eugene, The Generalizability of Gender Bias: Testing the Effects of Contextual, Explicit, and Implicit Sexism on Labor Arbitration Decisions (April 17, 2015). Law and Human Behavior, Vol. 39, No. 5, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2595796 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2595796

Erik James Girvan (Contact Author)

University of Oregon School of Law ( email )

1515 Agate Street
Eugene, OR Oregon 97403
United States
541 346-8934 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.uoregon.edu/faculty/girvan/

Grace M. Deason

University of Wisconsin - La Crosse ( email )

1725 State Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
United States

Eugene Borgida

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities ( email )

420 Delaware St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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