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Perceived resiliency: The influence of resilience narratives on attribution processes in selection
Journal of Vocational Behavior  (IF6.065),  Pub Date : 2021-10-25, DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2021.103653
Danielle D. King, Brent Lyons, Cassandra N. Phetmisy

Resilience narratives (stories of encountering and overcoming adversity) are often solicited in pre-interview (e.g., application) and interview selection contexts. In this work, we examine the effectiveness of resilience narratives in pre-interview and interview selection contexts where applicants share personal narratives about themselves. Drawing on Attribution Theory (Heider, 1958; Kelley, 1967) we make hypotheses about how perceived resiliency is shaped by resilience narratives and how this perception influences the hiring recommendations and emotional reactions of organizational decision-makers. Specifically, we examine the effects of two key elements of resilience narratives (locus of adversity and locus of support) on attribution processes and decision-making. To test the hypothesized model, we conducted a set of in-depth interviews and three experiments. Preliminary interview data demonstrated that hiring personnel consciously seek to assess perceived resiliency and resilience narrative loci in selection. In Study 1 we tested proposed effects with 178 working adults in a university application pre-interview context, Study 2 included a parallel experiment in an organizational interview context with 194 participants who had hiring experience, and Study 3 involved quantitative experimental assessments of job interviewees conducted with 124 working adults with hiring experience. Across two selection contexts (pre-interview applications, interviews) and three samples, results revealed that: (a) resilience narrative loci affect perceived trait resiliency attributions formed about applicants, and (b) perceived resiliency directly relates to emotional reactions and hiring recommendations, incrementally beyond competence perceptions. We detail theoretical and practical implications for the extension of Attribution Theory by integrating resilience narratives, perceived resiliency, and selection processes.