Discrimination against facially stigmatized applicants in interviews: an eye-tracking and face-to-face investigation

J Appl Psychol. 2012 Mar;97(2):317-30. doi: 10.1037/a0025799. Epub 2011 Oct 17.


Drawing from theory and research on perceived stigma (Pryor, Reeder, Yeadon, & Hesson-McInnis, 2004), attentional processes (Rinck & Becker, 2006), working memory (Baddeley & Hitch, 1974), and regulatory resources (Muraven & Baumeister, 2000), the authors examined discrimination against facially stigmatized applicants and the processes involved. In Study 1, 171 participants viewed a computer-mediated interview of an applicant who was facially stigmatized or not and who either did or did not acknowledge the stigma. The authors recorded participants' (a) time spent looking at the stigma (using eye tracker technology), (b) ratings of the applicant, (c) memory recall about the applicant, and (d) self-regulatory depletion. Results revealed that the participants with facially stigmatized applicants attended more to the cheek (i.e., where the stigma was placed), which led participants to recall fewer interview facts, which in turn led to lower applicant ratings. In addition, the participants with the stigmatized (vs. nonstigmatized) applicant depleted more regulatory resources. In Study 2, 38 managers conducted face-to-face interviews with either a facially stigmatized or nonstigmatized applicant, and then rated the applicant. Results revealed that managers who interviewed a facially stigmatized applicant (vs. a nonstigmatized applicant) rated the applicant lower, recalled less information about the interview, and depleted more self-regulatory resources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Eye Movement Measurements / instrumentation
  • Eye Movement Measurements / psychology
  • Face / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Job Application
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Personnel Selection*
  • Prejudice*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Social Perception*
  • Stroop Test
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult