Larger waistline, lower pay check; facial flaws not countenanced

by 30 Jan 2012

Research has revealed that higher numbers on the bathroom scales result in lower numbers on the pay check, and unconscious bias can mean candidates with facial flaws don’t even get a look in.

A new study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology has found that job candidates with facial blemishes such as birthmarks or scars, fared worse in interviews than those who didn’t.

Researchers at Rice University and the University of Houston found that HR managers and interviewers tended to be distracted by unusual body characteristics and recalled less information about job candidates as a result. “Our research shows if you recall less information about competent candidates because you are distracted by characteristics on their face, it decreases your overall evaluations of them,” co-author Dr MikkiHebl from Rice University said.

The study also revealed that hiring managers’ seniority, amount of experience or education in hiring practices had little impact on their ability to remain focused on the content of an interview. “When evaluating applicants in an interview setting, it's important to remember what they are saying,” Dr Hebl commented.

The new research coincides with another recent paper which found a significant wage gap between those within a healthy weight range and those who are obese. Wage gaps were especially pronounced among females, and it was found that obese women incur an average remuneration penalty of 14.6%.

The report by George Washington University (GWU) researchers found that wage disparities were greater for individuals who held jobs “requiring a high degree of social interaction,” often meaning contact with customers such as retail, hospitality, and health care.

Dr Christine Ferguson from the GWU Department of Health Policy said the findings “reinforce how prevalent stigma is when it comes to weight-related health issues.”


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