When conscientiousness differentially pays off: The role of incongruence between conscientiousness and black stereotypes in pay inequality

Hee Man Park, Timothy A. Judge, Hun Whee Lee, Seunghoo Chung, Yuhan Zhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In this research, we argue that conscientiousness can be a key factor in accounting for the racial pay gap among Black and White workers. Drawing from shifting standard and status characteristics theories and the literature on occupations, we propose that conscientiousness yields differential rewards for Blacks and Whites because of the incongruence between stereotypes about Black workers and conscientiousness. We further suggest the occupational value of status as an occupational-level boundary condition that affects the relationships between conscientiousness, race, and pay. We first tested our model with a large national panel dataset, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 97 (NLSY97), and occupational characteristics scores in the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), finding that the positive effects of conscientiousness on pay were greater for Whites compared to Blacks and that such pay inequality is more pronounced in occupations with high-status values than in those with low-status values. A follow-up experimental study that recruited 202 managers working in the U.S. produced similar results, suggesting that our findings were not attributable to the levels of job performance. Thus, our research demonstrates the role of conscientiousness in generating pay differentials based on race and sheds light on the importance of considering a discrete occupational context that contributes to organizational inequality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPersonnel Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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