What is the contrast effect?

The contrast effect is an unconscious bias that occurs when two objects are rated in relation to one another rather than independently.

When we start comparing objects to one another, our viewpoint changes, we prefer to evaluate things in relation to one another rather than on their own merits.

Because we may not even be aware that we are making a comparison, this influence can be both conscious and unconscious.

The contrast effect is classified into two types:

  • Positive contrast effect: when compared to bad things, anything is perceived as better than it would otherwise be.

  • Negative contrast effect: when compared to something superior, something is seen to be worse than it would typically be.

Recruitment contrast effect

Hiring managers typically evaluate candidates based on the perceived quality of the other prospects in the pool.

CV screening is susceptible to the contrast effect since it is normal for reviewers to begin rating applicants with the CV that came before or after, rather than considering the qualities of each candidate independently.

We exhibit unconscious bias when we utilise mental shortcuts and the rapid, intuitive part of our brain to make judgments that the slower, more conscious half should handle.

The contrast effect is a kind of mental shortcut in and of itself. Instead of evaluating each candidate's talents, knowledge, and so on, it's easier to make hasty decisions compared to the rest of the candidate pool. A candidate's appropriateness will always be evaluated concerning the rest of the pool.

As a result, weaker applicants may appear strong, while the best candidate for the position may be ignored in a more robust candidate pool.

The Contrast Effect's Impacts

  • Top talent is overlooked.

Because of poor luck and personal biases held by specific recruiters and hiring managers, talented candidates may miss out on career chances for which they are well suited.

  • A high rate of turnover

Employee happiness and motivation will suffer if employees believe they are being unjustly rated against their colleagues or that their efforts are devalued. Employees dissatisfied with their jobs will seek other opportunities, increasing turnover and recruiting rates.

  • Toxic work culture

Even if people remain, company culture will suffer. Competition and comparison among coworkers, especially when unwarranted and unneeded, fosters resentment, fuels confrontations, and stifles collaboration.

Resolving the workplace contrast effect

  • Awareness

The first step in eliminating prejudice from employment is constantly raising awareness. Inform your organisation's recruiting supervisors of this prejudice. You may utilise the preceding parts to develop a training outline.

  • Examine Job Descriptions

Replace competitive adjectives like "driven" with "collaborative" as you go through the job description. The goal is to exhibit a happy and healthy work environment where everyone can thrive.

  • The Blind Resume Evaluation

Based on your organisation's capabilities, it is advised that you conceal any features that may cause contrast bias while assessing resumes. Name, race, colour, religion, sexual orientation, pregnancy status, gender, and national origin are these attributes.

  • Structured Interviews

Numerous interview styles might help to reduce or eliminate contrast bias among job seekers. This is performed by grading each candidate based on the abilities required for success in the position and asking preset interview questions about each competency. Unstructured interviews should be avoided.

  • The Likeability Index

We are drawn to those who are similar to ourselves. Ask yourself how crucial you like the individual in this position as you prepare for interviews. Once you've identified this, you may control contrast bias by assessing this person's likability.