Post-traumatic stress disorder and hiring: The role of social media disclosures on stigma and hiring assessments of veterans


A significant percentage of veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Veterans are often directed to social media platforms to seek support during their transition to civilian life. However, social media platforms are increasingly used to aid in hiring decisions, and these platforms may make veterans’ PTSD more discoverable during the hiring process. Based on social identity theory and identity management theory, the integrated suspicion model, and the stigma literature, we conducted four studies that examine veterans’ PTSD disclosures on social media and the consequences in the hiring process. Study 1 suggests that 16%–34% of veterans included cues related to PTSD status on social media. Study 2, based on 290 upper-level business students, shows that veterans with PTSD were more stigmatized than veterans without PTSD, and stigmatization is associated with more suspicion and lower hiring-related ratings (of expected task performance, expected organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB), expected counterproductive work behaviors (CWB), and intention to interview). Study 3, based on 431 working professionals with hiring experience, further supports relationships from Study 2. Study 4, based on 298 working professionals, identifies peril (i.e., perceptions regarding danger) as an additional mediator for the effects of PTSD on hiring-related ratings. In sum, we identify and explore the identity management conundrum that social media disclosure poses for veterans with PTSD in the hiring process and discuss potential remedies and avenues for future research.

Journal article

Pu, Wenxi, Roth, Philip L., Thatcher, Jason B., et al.. "Post-traumatic stress disorder and hiring: The role of social media disclosures on stigma and hiring assessments of veterans." Personnel Psychology, 76, no. 1 (2023) Wiley: 41-75.

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