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J Appl Psychol. 1994 Dec;79(6):909-17.

Bias against overweight job applicants in a simulated employment interview.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Finch University of Health Sciences/The Chicago Medical School, Illinois 60064.


This study assessed whether moderately obese individuals, especially women, would be discriminated against in a mock employment interview. Potential confounding factors were controlled by having 320 Ss rate videotapes of a job interview that used the same professional actors appearing as normal weight or made up to appear overweight by the use of theatrical prostheses. Results suggested that bias against hiring overweight job applicants does exist, especially for female applicants. Bias was most pronounced when applicants were rated by Ss who were satisfied with their bodies and for whom perceptions of their bodies were central to self-concept. The decision not to hire an obese applicant was, however, only partially mediated by personality attributions. Implications and limitations of these results are discussed.

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