Managing a Perilous Stigma: Ex-Offenders’ Use of Reparative Impression Management Tactics in Hiring Contexts

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Abstract

Individuals with a criminal record face employment challenges because of the nature of their stigma. In this study, we examined the efficacy of using reparative impression management tactics to mitigate integrity concerns associated with a perilous stigma. Drawing on affect control theory, we proposed that the use of 3 impression management tactics—apology, justification, excuse—would differentially affect hiring evaluations through their influence on perceived remorse and anticipated workplace deviance. Across 3 studies, we found support for our proposed model. Our results revealed the use of an apology or justification tactic when explaining a previous criminal offense had a positive indirect effect on hiring evaluations, whereas the use of an excuse tactic had a negative indirect effect. These findings suggest applicants may benefit from using impression management tactics that communicate remorse when discussing events or associations that violate integrity expectations.

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