n116597SE Academic Article uri icon


  • Purpose: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provided industrial/organizational (I/O) psychologists with a unique role as professional test developers and consultants involved in assisting organizations in establishing the job-relatedness/validity defense to charges of discrimination, specifically charges based on an adverse or disparate impact theory. However, these activities have transmogrified into the fairly common occurrence of public municipalities and organizations demanding the reduction or absence of adverse impact as part of the scope of work or contracts and for practitioners and consultants to guarantee adverse impact reduction or elimination a priori. Plaintiffs and their experts also routinely argue that the observed adverse impact could have been allayed or eliminated if the defendant had only just used alternative testing methods. This then begs the following question: "Are there well established techniques and procedures that can reduce, minimize, or eliminate adverse impact in a predictable, generalizable, and replicable fashion in the same manner that we might guarantee validity?" The present paper seeks to answer this question. Approach and Findings: With the preceding as a backdrop, the present paper identifies and discusses four overlooked critical attributes of adverse impact that collectively and in conjunction work against and obviate adverse impact reduction and elimination guarantees. Conclusions and Implications: We conclude that the search for guaranteed adverse impact reduction or elimination is a "Holy Grail" and that we should avoid predictions and guarantees regarding adverse impact elimination in specific situations, including those based on the inclusion of "alternative" selection devices. However, in the context of civil rights legislation, and the intersection of I/O psychologists with said legislation, what we can guarantee as a science and profession are sound and valid tests and assessment devices that can be defended accordingly should the use of said tests and devices be challenged. 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Business and Psychology

author list (cited authors)

  • Arthur, W., Doverspike, D., Barrett, G. V., & Miguel, R.

publication date

  • January 1, 2013 11:11 AM