UCL School of Management

14 December 2016

How our hidden preferences towards natural talent lead to biased hiring

Our preference for ‘natural talent’ results in biased hiring, according to a blog written by Chia-Jung Tsay, Assistant Professor at UCL School of Management.

In her blog for the Association of MBAs (AMBA), Chia discusses her research which indicates that people tend to hire, or promote, those who have perceived natural talents, instead of those who are ‘strivers’ - people who work hard because they ‘lack talent’. 

“There is a certain mythology about naturalness that captivates our attention regardless of domain, be it the apparently effortless performance of a musician, the stellar scores achieved on the GMAT with little apparent preparation, or the job applicant who whizzes through cases,” said Chia.

Chia has completed a number of studies, including those with musicians, and has consistently found that people choose natural talent, despite in some cases that being the poorer option.

“Despite being presented with entrepreneurs equal in achievement, and despite being presented with an audio excerpt of the same business proposal, people still believed the “natural” entrepreneur was more accomplished and were more interested in investing in the proposal attributed to the ‘natural.’” 

“Both experienced entrepreneurs and novices judged the “natural” and his business proposal to be superior to the “striver” and his business proposal on measures of talent and success.”

You can read her full blog on the AMBA website.

Last updated Wednesday, 14 December 2016