A Blind Spot For Attractiveness Discrimination: Why Some Types of Discrimination Go Undetected; seminar on Tuesday, April 30th, 2024

Dr. Johannes Boegershausen - Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (The Netherlands). The seminar is reserved to Department of Management.

  • Date: 30 April 2024 from 13:00 to 14:00

  • Event location: Online with Teams platform and in presence, Seminar Room 1, via Capo di Lucca, 34 - Bologna

Discrimination remains a key challenge for social equity. There is widespread agreement that discrimination is unfair and should be punished. A prerequisite for this is that instances of discrimination are detected. Yet, some types of discrimination may be less apparent than others. Across six high-powered studies (N = 3,269, five preregistered) and two supplemental studies with American and Dutch participants, we find that attractiveness discrimination often goes undetected compared to more prototypical types of discrimination (i.e., gender and race discrimination).

This was observed for hiring and sentencing decisions, different measures of discrimination perceptions (open-ended descriptions, fairness ratings, explicit attributions to discrimination), and different manifestations of discrimination (favoring vs. disfavoring individuals). This blind spot does not emerge because people perceive attractiveness discrimination to be less problematic.

Rather, our findings suggest that people’s ability to detect discrimination is bounded. When scrutinizing decision outcomes (e.g., hiring or sentencing decisions) for bias, people tend to focus on a few salient dimensions, such as gender and race. Consistent with this account, interventions that drew attention to attractiveness discrimination increased its subsequent detection, but also decreased the detection of other types of discrimination.

Dr. Johannes Boegershausen is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. He holds a Ph.D. in Marketing from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia (Canada). Subsequently, he worked as an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Amsterdam. In September 2020, Johannes joined Erasmus University.

Johannes’ research focuses on marketplace morality, polarized consumer sentiments, and metascience with current projects spanning various topics including (1) collecting web data at scale for marketing research, (2) the effects of brand hatred on consumer preferences, (3) and people’s blind spots for certain forms of discrimination. His research has been published in leading academic journals such as the Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Consumer Psychology, and the Journal of Service Research.

The seminar will be held in English.

Major information: Daniela Bolzani (daniela.bolzani@unibo.it).