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Publication Date

Fall 2021

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Megumi Hosada

Subject Areas



Research has shown that Black women with their natural hairstyles (e.g., Afro) are often viewed more negatively and subject to more discrimination compared to White women and Black women with straight hairstyles. However, previous studies have failed to include a moderator of the effects of hairstyles on employment decisions. Therefore, using an experimental design and data from 180 participants, the current study examined the interactive effect of hairstyle (straight vs. afro) and job status (low vs. high) of Black female applicant on employment-related attributes (e.g., perceived competence, professionalism) and employment-related decisions (i.e., job suitability and hiring decisions). Consistent with hypotheses, results showed that the Black female job applicant with an afro hairstyle was viewed as less competent, professional, and suitable for a job, and received less hiring offers than the Black female candidate with a straight hairstyle when they applied for the higher status position, but there was no effect of hairstyle on these variables for the lower status position. These results suggest that hairstyle alone may not have a significant effect on personal perceptions and judgment, but when combined with job status, they can cause Black job candidates to be discriminated against when applying for higher-status roles. Organizations can educate themselves and actively reduce appearance-based biases when seeking talent with Black female job applicants, as this is likely to lead to fair evaluations regardless of their appearance.