Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Victoria M. Esses


This dissertation compromises 2 experiments that investigated religious discrimination as it particularly affects foreign-trained job applicants. Study 1 consisted of a 3 (Applicant’s religion: Christian, Muslim, or No Affiliation) X 2 (Applicant’s location of training: Canada or Cyprus) between-subjects design. After viewing an advertisement for a health-care position, Canadian participants reviewed a male applicant’s CV and watched his taped interview, in which a briefly visible pendant indicated his religious affiliation. The job applicant was then evaluated on two sets of skills: hard (technical) skills and soft (non-technical) skills. As predicted based on the justification suppression model of prejudice (Crandall & Eshleman, 2003), a significant interaction between the applicant’s religion and location of training revealed biases in the evaluation of both sets of skills. While no differences emerged within the Canadian-trained condition, results pointed to significant differences within the foreign-trained condition, such that the Muslim was consistently rated less favourably than the Christian. Study 2 partially replicated the design from Study 1 with the addition of manipulating certification to practice in Canada for the foreign trained applicant. In a 2 (Applicant’s religion: Christian or Muslim) x 3 (Applicant’s location of training: Canada, Certified/Foreign-trained, or Not-certified/Foreign-trained) between-subjects design, Canadian participants evaluated the job applicant on hard skills, soft skills, and hiring recommendation. Findings pointed to an interaction between the applicant’s religion and training on the evaluation of soft skills and hiring recommendation; a main effect of training emerged for evaluation of hard skills. As part of the goal to understand the processes underlying hiring decisions, Study 2 also examined several mediators of the hiring recommendation, and found hard skills, soft skills, respect, and admiration to mediate the link between the religion x training interaction and hiring recommendations. Taken together, the findings point to the complexity of the employment process, and the role of bias in the evaluation of foreign-trained job applicants. Implications for policy and future directions for research are discussed.