The effects of openness to experience on the treatment of ex ...

The effects of openness to experience on the treatment of ex ...

Examining closed-mindedness and
uncertaintys effects on likelihood to hire ex-convicts
Urecki, C., Keith, V., Hord, E., VanNess, K., Pena, J., Bankert, M., Buchholz, C.
Roanoke College

Abstract
In this study, we examined the effects of personality
(closed-mindedness) and situational uncertainty on a
participants likelihood to hire ex-convicts. The results
indicate that participants who were open-minded, high in
need for cognition, and low in preference for order had
more favorable attitudes toward hiring convicts.

Introduction
What is it about a person that makes an individual less
willing to hire someone with a criminal background?
Based on previous research, closed-minded individuals
seek out closure and thus, are more likely to utilize
stereotypical and heuristic strategies when making
decisions (Kruglanksi, 2004). In other words, we would
expect individuals high in closed-mindedness to be less
likely to hire an applicant. However, does the amount or
quality of information one receives about a potential hire
make a difference? One could argue that one aspect of
open-mindedness is a tolerance for
uncertainty/unpredictability; a willingness to try new
things or make decisions in the face of a lack of
information. In this study, we explored this notion by
examining how likely participants were to hire an
individual who committed a crime, was in prison, and is
now looking for employment. We were interested in
examining two factors: open/closed-mindedness
(Kruglanski, Webster, & Klem, 1993) and the uncertainty
of the situation. In future studies, we plan to explore this
potential interaction between the uncertainty of the
situation and individual differences that may affect ones
tolerance for this uncertainty (e.g., openness to
experience, need for cognition, uncertainty tolerance,
etc.). The research from this study is intended to be a
starting point for examining ways to improve the chances
of ex-offenders in attaining employment and hopefully as
a result decreasing recidivism.

Methods
We obtain a sample of 71 Roanoke College
Introductory Psychology students who were to obtain
course credit for participation. The participants were
randomly assigned to either the Certain Condition or the
Uncertain condition. In order to manipulate the
uncertainty of the situation, participants were given a
letter (uncertain or certain) about an ex-convicted
individual looking for a job. Participants in the Certain
Condition were given a letter with specific details about
the individual and participants who were in the Uncertain
Condition were given a letter with vague details about
the individual. A 2(uncertain/certain) x 2(low/high
closed-mindedness) between subjects ANOVAs was
conducted to examine the effects on a participants
likelihood to hire the ex-convict. In order assess the
reasons for either support or opposition of hiring, we
used questions such as: I would prefer having more
information about the candidate before I would schedule
an interview, If this person who did not have a
criminal background, I would hire him, People who
commit crimes, no matter what type of offense, will
always be criminals, and People who have committed

Hypothesis
People who are more closed-minded will be less likely to hire

Likelihood
Likelihoodto
toHire
Hire
Figure 1.

Attitudes
Attitudesabout
aboutCandidate
Candidate
Figure 5.

individuals with a criminal background.
People who are given more information will feel more
comfortable in making a decision based on hiring an individual
with a criminal background.

Results
In this study we were interested in how uncertainty
affects attitudes about hiring ex-convicts. In addition to the
manipulation of certainty level in the letter participants read,
we also examined several individual difference measures
intended to indicate ones tolerance for uncertain situations
(i.e., closed-mindedness, need for cognition, preference for
order). Unfortunately, the certainty manipulation failed to
significantly affect participants attitudes about hiring.
Likelihood to Hire. In order to evaluate the effects of
closed-mindedness and level of uncertainty on likelihood to
hire, a 2 (uncertain/certain) X 2 (low/high closed-mindedness)
between subjects analysis of variance was conducted. The
open minded participants were more likely to hire (M = 2.78)
than closed minded participants (M = 2.58); however, this
difference was not statistically significant. When we include
for need for cognition, we found that participants who were
high in need for cognition (M = 2.82) were more likely to hire
than those who were low in need for cognition (M = 2.54), F
(1, 66) = 5.856, p = .018, 2 = .082 (Figure 1). As shown in
Figure 2, we also found a significant main effect for preference
for order, F (1, 67) = 5.232, p = .025, 2 = .072. Participants
who were high in preference for order (M=2.54) were less
likely to hire than those who were low in preference for order
(M=2.81).
Belief in Rehabilitation. In order to evaluate the
effects of closed-mindedness and level of uncertainty on the
belief that criminals can be rehabilitated, a 2
(uncertain/certain) X 2 (low/high closed-mindedness) between
subjects analysis of variance was conducted. There were no
significant effects for closed-mindedness; however, we did find
a significant main effect for need for cognition, F (1, 66) =
5.926, p = .018, 2 = .082 (Figure 3). Participants who were
high in need for cognition (M = 3.52) were more likely to feel
that criminals could be rehabilitated in comparison to those
who were low in need for cognition (M = 3.22). When we
looked at preference for order , we found that participants who
were high in preference for order (M = 3.17) were less likely
than those who were low in preference for order (M = 3.57) to
believe that criminals can be rehabilitated, F (1, 67) = 12.000,
p = .001, 2 = .152 (Figure 4).
Attitudes about the Candidate. In order to evaluate
the effects of closed-mindedness and levels of uncertainty on
attitudes about the candidate, a 2 (uncertain/certain) X 2 (low/
high closed-mindedness) between subjects analysis of
variance was conducted. Participants who scored high in
closed-mindedness (M = 2.49) were less likely to have positive
attitudes about the candidate than those low in closedmindedness (M = 2.69), F (1, 66) = 4.572, p = .036, 2 = .065
(Figure 5). Need for cognition was also significant, F (1, 65) =

Figure 2.
Figure 6.

Belief
Beliefin
inRehabilitation
Rehabilitation

Figure 7.

Figure 3.

Figure 4.

References
Kruglanski, A. W. (2004). The psychology of closed mindedness. New
York, NY: Psychology Press.
Kruglanski, A. W., Webster, D. M., & Klem, A. (1993). Motivated resistance
and openness to persuasion in the presence of absence of prior information.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 861-867.

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