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Effects of Explanations on Applicant Reactions: A meta-analytic review

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One cost effective way to improve applicant reactions is by giving explanations. Although a literature on this topic has accumulated, the effects of explanations on applicant reactions have not been examined meta-analytically, and several aspects of giving explanations to applicants are unclear. For example, do explanations affect applicant reactions, and which outcomes are most affected? Do findings from lab studies generalize to field settings? Under what conditions are explanations most effective? To answer these questions, we meta-analytically examined the effects of providing explanations on applicant reactions. Based on 26 distinct samples from experiments and quasi-experiments (N=3481), our results suggest that explanations do affect applicants' fairness perceptions, perceptions of the hiring organization, test-taking motivation, and performance on cognitive ability tests. The effects on fairness are larger in field contexts than in lab settings and when they are used with a personality test rather than a cognitive ability test. Test-taking motivation mediated the relationship between explanations and test performance. Our discussion focuses on when to provide explanations to applicants in employment settings and directions for future research.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Portland State University, PO Box 751, Portland, OR 97207, USA., Email: [email protected] 2: Dipartimento di Scienze della Cognizione e della Formazione, Universit√† degli Studi di Trento, 38068, Rovereto, Italy 3: School of Business Administration, Portland State University, PO Box 751, Portland, OR 97207, USA 4: Department of Psychology, Portland State University, PO Box 751, Portland, OR 97207, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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