Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to test the idea that symbols can serve as a cue to group membership and to assess discrimination towards working with individuals displaying certain symbols – the ichthus, the gay pride symbol and the Confederate flag. Design/methodology/approach – This study looked at one particular method (i.e. clothing worn) of revealing one's attitude towards an issue or group, such as the Confederacy or Christianity. This study was designed to test selection preferences for three different symbols each against a control group. The experimental independent variable of symbol had four levels (control, ichthus, gay pride triangle, and Confederate flag). Two subject variables were tested as moderating variables (ethnic identity and Christian identity). Each of these was measured via a questionnaire, and a median split on scores was used to create two groups: strong and weak identity for each scale. The dependent variable was the selection preference for the target individual. Participants were 265 undergraduate students enrolled in introductory psychology and management classes. Findings – It was confirmed that there are many signs that people give off in their verbal and non‐verbal behavior that reveal bits and pieces of their personality and ideologies. Originality/value – The discrimination that students showed in this study reveals the importance of training those who may go into management roles and be involved in selection decisions to be aware of their natural tendencies to categorize people and the behavioral outcomes this can have.
Equal Opportunities International – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 2, 2008
Keywords: Symbols; Visual perception; Individual perception; Individual behaviour; Individual psychology