Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Finkelstein, Lisa M.

Degree Name

B.S. (Bachelor of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Disabilities that are not directly observable (invisible disabilities) is an area of psychological research that is rapidly expanding and in need of further studies. Invisible disabilities are different from the stereotypical interpretation of “disabilities” in that they are not readily apparent to others – thus, their holders have control over disclosure of their disability status. There has been little research on the impact of invisible disability status on perceptions of workplace potential. Additionally, job relevance of a disability has been shown to influence evaluations of employees (Colella & Varma, 1999). Recently, research has theorized about the process of designating employees as “high potential” in the workplace– meaning they are likely to earn promotions in an organization and take positions of leadership over time (e.g., Finkelstein, Costanza, & Goodwin, 2015). Previous research has looked at the effect of an invisible disability on perceptions of employee potential (Kerbis, Stricker, Atterberg, Thomas, & Finkelstein, 2018), but job relevance was not tested. The current study manipulated the presence of a job-relevant invisible disability and the quality of employee performance to test the effect on perceptions of potential. After receiving employee information, participants filled out questionnaires to evaluate the employee in four categories of potential (social competence, cognitive ability, personality, and growth and learning competencies) as well as their promotability. Findings were difficult to interpret due to inadequate sample size but suggest that those with invisible disabilities may have different standards of potential to live up to in comparison to their counterparts who did not have a disability.


52 Pages




Northern Illinois University

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