OSA Seminar by Sladjana Nørskov and John P. Ulhøi

Examining fairness and rationality in social interactions: The robot-mediated employment interview?

2017.10.03 | Merete Elmann

Date Mon 06 Nov
Time 12:00 13:00
Location Room 2628-M303, Department of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University

Monday, 6 November 2017 at 12:00 in room 2628-303, Sladjana Nørskov and John P. Ulhøi will give a presentation entitled

Examining fairness and rationality in social interactions: The robot-mediated employment interview?


Everyone is welcome!


The employment interview is a critical organisational activity that helps firms secure the necessary workforce to remain competitive over time. It is one of the most often used selection techniques to assess prospect candidates for employment (Macan, 2009). Despite its critical function, the employment interview is not necessarily conducted in an objective way. Although interviewers try to perform the employment interview in a neutral and rational way, they are in fact influenced by unintentional and potentially discriminating biases towards applicants (Howard and Ferris, 1996). Cognitive biases (e.g. stereotyping, halo effect) may, for instance, lead to unintentional discrimination related to race, gender, body size etc., which in turn may influence the interviewer’s rationality and the applicant’s perceived fairness of the interview. Recent research in neuroscience has documented that automatic or implicit biases are difficult to change and/or regulate. For instance, even individuals who are strongly motivated and determined to act without prejudice have been found to exhibit racial biases at the level of preconscious decision-making (Amodio, 2014). In response to these problems, the current study seeks to investigate whether the traditional employment interview setup could be manipulated in such a way that it reduces or eliminates some of the outlined unintended effects.

Technological developments have made it possible to replace and/or supplement previous exclusively human-based business processes with robotics-assisted technology alternatives. The use of robots in industry is not new, in fact, it goes back decades. However, more recently, a different type of robots is being tested in various contexts, such as healthcare, elderly care, and education. This new type of robots, called social robots, is designed to “engage humans in social interactions, by presenting themselves—in appearance or behaviour—as intelligent social agents” (Seibt, 2016). Our study examines whether the use of a particular type of social robot, namely the Telenoid, can be used to reduce cognitive biases, and whether this will result in increased fairness perceptions and rationality in the employment interview. The Telenoid is a teleoperated android robot designed to offer a minimal and thus neutral human embodiment. The Telenoid serves as a communication medium that is intended to transfer a person’s presence and allow for “see[ing] any kind of person in the Telenoid” (Ogawa et al., 2011: 2). These particular characteristics make the Telenoid suitable for testing for its effects on the employment interview and the associated cognitive biases and perceived fairness. The study is based on an experimental design in which a Telenoid acts as a fair proxy for a neutral and humanlike interviewer and interviewee.

1 This project has recently been launched as part of a larger Semper Ardens grant from Carlsberg Research Foundation.