Volume 3

The Impact of Physical Evidence of a Disability on Judgments of Attractiveness and Competence

Jennifer Marie Martinelli & Lori Jayko

In an examination of the impact of attractiveness and presence of a disability on perceived job competencies, volunteers (n = 139) were randomly assigned to one of four scenario conditions. The scenarios depicted an employee as varying in attractiveness (attractive; unattractive) and type of disability (Down’s Syndrome; scoliosis). Participants rated the character on job competencies, co-worker interactions, as well as their own personal comfort. Measures of self-esteem, body satisfaction, and exposure to disabilities were completed. Results showed that attractive employees were rated higher on job competency regardless of depicted disability. High self-esteem and body satisfaction were associated with positive evaluations of the employee. Exposure to disabilities was associated with feelings of comfort with an employee described as having Down’s Syndrome. The benefits of familiarity and contact with members of disabled populations are discussed.

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