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The Effects of Reason for Wrongful Conviction on Perceiver Stereotype Endorsement and Hiring Judgments

The proposed work examines the effect of wrongful conviction and the reason for wrongful conviction (i.e., false confession vs. eyewitness misidentification) on employment-based discrimination. Participants will read a job application from either a) an exoneree whose conviction is attributed to false confession, b) eyewitness misidentification, or c) an individual with no criminal history before completing measures of stereotype endorsement and employment qualification. I hypothesize that stereotype endorsement and job fit impression will serially mediate the relationship between applicant condition and starting wage offered as well as hiring decision, with the false confession exoneree being evaluated more negatively than the misidentified exoneree and both exonerees being evaluated more negatively than individuals with no criminal record. The results after completing this study found that our hypothesis was partially supported. The false confession exoneree was evaluated most negatively on all dependent variables compared to the misidentified exoneree and the individual with no criminal history, which did not differ significantly. Further, we found a significant serial mediation where stereotype endorsement and job fit impression mediated the relationship between applicant type, starting wage offered, and hiring decision. A disturbing implication of our results is that there may be a reluctance to hire exonerees who falsely confessed because there may be negative stereotypes of this group and thus perceived as less hirable.