Paralympian for hire: Does the paralympian stereotype extend to a job selection scenario?


Research suggests able-bodied individuals hold an explicit stereotype favouring Paralympians; Paralympians are considered more competent and warmer than individuals with a disability not portrayed as athletes. The purpose of this study was to determine if this Paralympian stereotype translates to an ecologically valid context – job selection. Able-bodied individuals (N=192; Mage= 25.94±7.89; 76.6% female) completed an online survey. Participants were presented a job description, followed by an applicant resume. The resume either highlighted the applicant's experience as a Paralympian or provided no athlete information. Resumes were matched on all other elements. Participants completed stereotype measures (warmth, competence) and judgments of candidate's suitability for the job (Time 1: post-resume). Next, a standardized, seven-minute video of the candidate answering interview questions was presented. Stereotype and judgement measures were repeated. Believability of the applicant's qualifications also was assessed (Time 2: post-video). RM ANOVA revealed the Paralympian and non-athlete were perceived as equally competent and warm at both time-points, p>.05. A time x athlete status interaction revealed the Paralympian was perceived to be more suitable for the position compared to the non-athlete at Time 1, p<.05. Judgments of both applicant's job suitability increased after the video interview, p<.05. Participants were less likely to believe applicants were elite athletes (M=2.99±1.56) compared to other qualifications (e.g., volunteerism; M=5.32±1.24), ps<.05. While status of a Paralympian may shape initial perceptions of job suitability, its potential as an impression management strategy may be limited by rigid stereotypes characterizing individuals with a disability as non-athletes.

Acknowledgments: This research was supported by a SSHRC Insight Grant to Dr. Amy Latimer-Cheung