Want a job, drop the Merlot

Job
applicants who drink alcohol are perceived as less intelligent and less
hireable by American bosses, a bias dubbed the “imbibing idiot bias”
in a study published this week.

In
a series of six related experiments, researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania found that an association with
alcohol caused observers to “expect cognitive impairment” in a job
seeker.

“Merely
holding an alcoholic beverage may reduce the perceived intelligence of the
person,” Scott Rick and Maurice
Schweitzer wrote.

Their
study was presented to the Academy of Management, an annual meeting of business and
management researchers.

In
one of their experiments, the researchers asked 610 middle managers at U.S.
companies to evaluate a video recording of a dramatized interview over dinner
between a pair of actors playing a manager and a prospective hire.

The
script for the questions and answers was the same in all cases. In some of the
mock interviews, the manager ordered “Coke” or “the house
Merlot.” The job seeker also ordered either the soft drink or the wine.

Regardless
of what the manager ordered, job seekers were seen as less worthy of being
hired and less “intelligent, scholarly and intellectual” when they
ordered the Merlot.

Job
seekers who ordered wine after the manager ordered a Coke were “especially
punished” with low ratings for perceived intelligence, the study said.

Rick,
a professor of marketing at the University of Michigan, said he had just
completed a round of interviews for academic jobs when he and Schweitzer began
brainstorming about ways to test how drinking affects the way Americans are
seen.

Some
of his own recent interviews, Rick said, included social settings where he and
those evaluating him had a drink.

“I
chose alcohol often and there were a lot of interviews with jobs that I didn’t
get,” said Rick. “Now I wonder about that choice.”

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That glass of wine could cost you your next job according to a new study.
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