The Role of Attributions and Fairness in Understanding Job Applicant Reactions to Selection Procedures and Decisions

Khaldoun I. Ababneh, Rick D. Hackett, Aaron C.H. Schat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Drawing mainly upon Applicant Attribution-Reaction Theory (AART), we clarify and underscore the role of attribution dimensions (personal control, external control, and stability) in forming applicant fairness perceptions, attitudes, and behavioral reactions. Design/Methodology/Approach: Students seeking (or about to seek) jobs (N = 264) participated in an experimental study in which procedural justice rules and outcome favorability (selected or rejected) were manipulated. Participants reported their attributions, fairness perceptions, and behavioral intentions. Hypotheses were tested through SEM and bootstrapping. Findings: Applicant attributions were predicted by outcome favorability and the extent to which the interview process satisfied/violated procedural justice rules. In line with AART, process fairness perceptions mediated relationships between applicant attribution dimensions and both organizational perceptions and behavioral intentions. Implications: Organizations should satisfy justice rules in employee selection processes because such rules affect applicant attributions, which in turn predict perceptions and behavioral intentions. In addition to identifying antecedents and consequences of fairness perceptions, antecedents and consequences of applicant attributions should be investigated, as both relate to important organizational outcomes. Originality/Value: This study is one of a very few to test propositions from AART. Through an experimental design of high internal validity, we show that outcome favorability and the satisfaction/violation of justice rules predict job applicant attributions (personal control, external control, and stability). We further show that applicants' attributions explain unique variance in their perceptions of the employing organization and in their behavioral intentions (e.g., recommend organization to others; litigate) beyond that explained by selection outcome and fairness perceptions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-129
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Business and Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • AART
  • Attributions
  • Fairness perceptions
  • Job applicant reactions
  • Justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Applied Psychology
  • General Psychology


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