Vocational Interests and Adverse Impact: How Attraction and Selection on Vocational Interests Relate to Adverse Impact Potential

Kisha S. Jones, Daniel A. Newman, Rong Su, James Rounds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current research proposes to incorporate vocational interests into the study of adverse impact (i.e., differential hiring/selection rates between minority and majority groups in employment settings). In the context of high stakes testing (e.g., using cognitive and personality tests), we show how race gaps in vocational interests would correspond to differential rates of job attraction (the attraction process) and various personnel selection outcomes (the selection process), in patterns that are not always intuitive. Using findings from various meta-analyses, we construct a combined correlation matrix of race, vocational interests, cognitive ability, and Conscientiousness; and provide mathematical formulas to assess the role of vocational interests in determining subgroup differences on predictors in applicant pools. Results and empirical examples suggest: (a) applicant attraction based on vocational interests can reduce adverse impact potential when the interest favors the minority [majority] group and is negatively [positively] related to the predictor; (b) attraction effects of vocational interests on adverse impact potential are modest; (c) if the vocational interest subgroup mean difference is small relative to other predictors in use, personnel selection on the interest will reduce adverse impact potential; (d) attraction effects tend to dampen or remove the selection effects of vocational interests on adverse impact potential, due to variance restriction on interests in the applicant pool; and (e) selection effects tend to be much stronger than attraction effects. These findings have implications for how adverse impact might differ systematically across job types, partly due to attraction and selection effects involving race differences in vocational interests

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)604–627
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022


  • Adverse impact
  • Cognitive ability
  • Personality
  • Personnel selection
  • Vocational interests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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