When your face doesn't fit: employment discrimination against people with facial disfigurements


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Anna Stone, School of Psychology, University of East London, Water Lane, Stratford, London E15 4LZ, UK. E-mail: a.stone@uel.ac.uk


This study aimed to investigate the recruitment prospects of people with facial disfigurement and a contrasting group of wheelchair users, representing a functional impairment with little aesthetic impact. Three applications were made to each of 144 vacancies using three CVs and cover letters rotated around conditions in which one applicant was described as a wheelchair user, another had a noncontagious facial disfigurement, and the third (control condition) had neither. There was evidence of discrimination against people with facial disfigurement in jobs requiring high (but not low) levels of customer contact, and against wheelchair users for jobs entailing high or low-customer contact. Aesthetic considerations, social norms, and the possibility of stigma by association are discussed as potential underlying factors.