Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations

Toward an explanation of HR professionals' intuition-based hiring in a decision-making context

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Scott Highhouse (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Margaret E. Brooks (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Richard B. Anderson (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Jeffrey A. Brown (Other)


The current study investigates decision-making styles as predictors of HR professionals’ use of intuition in the hiring process. Despite the lack of effectiveness to predict job performance, intuition-based hiring methods are widely used in the field. Understanding the predictors of HR professionals’ intuition-based hiring may provide implications to promote evidence-based HR practices. Drawing on the dual-process framework and theories on decision-making under uncertainty, I examined two predictors of intuition-based hiring: cognitive reflection and ambiguity tolerance. Cognitive reflection entails a person’s tendency to think thoroughly and resist incorrect intuitive responses. Ambiguity tolerance refers to the extent to which a person is comfortable using vague information to make decisions. In an HR sample (n1 = 164) and a lay decision-maker sample (n2 = 167), participants completed an online survey that included measures of intuition-based hiring and decision-making styles. Data from the two samples provided inconsistent results in regression analyses. In the HR sample, neither of cognitive reflection and ambiguity tolerance significantly predicted intuitionbased hiring. In the lay decision-maker sample, however, ambiguity tolerance was able to explain intuition-based hiring above and beyond perceived situational constraints and Big Five personality traits. Exploratory analyses also showed that in the decision-maker sample ambiguity tolerance explained significant incremental variance in intuition-based hiring over Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification. The findings suggested that examining individual differences in decision-making styles might help researchers understand and predict HR professionals’ intuition-based hiring.