Management educators often assume that research-based arguments ought to be convincing to students. However, college students do not always accept even well-documented research findings. Among the reasons this might happen, we focus on the potential role of psychological mechanisms triggered by scholarly arguments that affect students' self-concepts, leading them to engage in self-enhancing or self-protective responses. We investigated such processes by examining students' reactions to a research argument emphasizing the importance of intelligence to job performance, in comparison to their reactions to research arguments emphasizing the importance of emotional intelligence or fit. Consistent with our predictions, students were less likely to accept the argument for the importance of intelligence compared to the alternative, less threatening, arguments (i.e., the importance of emotional intelligence or fit). Further, acceptance of the argument about the importance of intelligence was affected by students' grade point average (GPA) and moderated by their emotional stability. Specifically, consistent with self-enhancement theory, students with lower GPAs were more likely to reject the argument for intelligence and give self-protective reasons for their responses, whereas students with higher GPAs were more likely to accept the argument and give self-enhancing reasons. Implications for future research and for management teaching are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management