When deciding which candidate to hire or what company to invest in, do we favor someone who has a history of hard work and perseverance or the hotshot with a natural talent?
Findings from three studies conducted by University College London professor Chia-Jung Tsay suggest that when assessing people with equivalent levels of achievement and success, we’re predisposed to judge someone who’s a “natural” as more talented, more hirable, and more likely to succeed than someone who’s a “striver.”
“[T]here exists the belief that certain achievements cannot be explained solely by perseverance and hard work—that natural talent plays a role, and some ‘have it’ and others ‘do not,’” Tsay writes.
In the first set of studies, Tsay recruited 212 participants possessing varying experience with entrepreneurship; some individuals, categorized as novices, reported little-to-no professional experience with entrepreneurship at all (about 44% of the total sample). Those who reported more substantial entrepreneurship experience, such as founding a start-up company, were classified as experts (around 56% of the sample).
Participants were then presented with information about an entrepreneur named Charles, who had quickly achieved a high-ranking position through new product development at a recycling company. Half of the participants were shown a profile with details indicating Charles was a “natural” (i.e. he was a leader from day one) and half saw details hinting that he was a “striver” (i.e. he became a leader through developing critical relationships).
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