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Physical Attractiveness Bias in Employee Termination


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lisa Finkelstein, Department of Psychology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115, USA. E-mail:


We examined the impact of attractiveness on employment termination decisions. After viewing a file that contained a poor performance review and a badge with a photograph of an extremely attractive, moderately attractive, or unattractive employee, 178 participants were asked if they would terminate the employee, rated how much they liked the employee, and made a judgment of attribution of her poor performance. Participants were willing to terminate the unattractive woman more frequently than the moderate or extremely attractive women. The participants also liked the unattractive woman less than the others. When asked to rate causes of poor performance, no differences were found based directly on attractiveness, but attributions mediated the relationship between liking ratings and termination decisions.