What Really Counts – An Exploratory Study of the Impact of Aggregated Data on Person Perception

Aggregated data have been used in human resource management to reduce a number of data into small pieces of information. Their use is aimed at supporting decision-making. However, less is known about the impact of aggregated data on person perception, which is decisive in, for instance, recruitment. With reference to warranting theory (Walther & Parks, 2002), we assume that aggregated data in the form of different indices on a business networking site have the power to affect the impressions of employability and destructive leadership behavior. To examine the impact, we conducted a 2 (low vs. high number of commonalities) × 2 (low vs. high number of contacts) × 2 (low vs. high activity level) × 2 (male vs. female) between-subject online experiment (N = 665). The analyses showed no direct effects of the indices on person perception; however, there were significant interaction effects with the profile proprietor’s sex. Results indicate that aggregated data can support decision-making and can promote equality between female and male job candidates.

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