Acknowledging One's Stigma in the Interview Setting: Effective Strategy or Liability?


  • The first study was based on a portion of the first author's doctoral dissertation at Dartmouth College. The research was partially funded by a grant from an American Psychological Association Dissertation Research Award and by a grant from the Filene Fund. The authors thank Julie McGuire for her assistance in running Experiment 1; Daniela Cimino, Andrea Goldstein, Melissa Hyslop, Michele Pashko, Amy Petcen, and Damen Peterson for serving as research assistants and confederates; and Robert Dipboye and David Lane for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Michelle Hebl, Department of Psychology, Rice University, 6100 South Main Street MS-25, Houston, TX 77005-1892. E-mail:


The current research examines how members of stigmatized groups remediate hiring biases by adopting the strategy of directly acknowledging their stigmatizing condition within the interview context. In the first study, 123 participants responded to a videotaped interview involving an obese or physically disabled job applicant who either did or did not acknowledge a stigma. In the second study, 87 participants responded to scenarios that manipulated type of stigma, controllability of its onset, and acknowledgment. Results across both experiments reveal that applicants who did not acknowledge their obesity or physical disability in an employment context were not viewed differently from each other. However, if applicants did acknowledge, the perceived controllability of the stigmas strongly influenced how they would be perceived.