New Haven, Conn. (CBS CONNECTICUT) — Male members of a jury are more likely to find a defendant guilty if the accused person is an overweight female.
According to a recent study by Yale University psychologists, male – and not female – jurors are also more inclined to believe that a fat woman is a repeat offender who had malicious intent.
The researchers gathered a group of 471 pretend peers of varying body sizes and described to them a case of check fraud. They also presented them with one of four images—either a large man, a lean man, a large woman, or a lean woman—and identified the person in the photograph as the defendant.
Participants rated the pretend-defendant’s guilt on a five-point scale. No fat bias was present when the female pretend peers evaluated the fake female defendants or when either men or women assessed the guilt of the men.
But when the male pretend peers pronounced judgment on the fake female defendants – physical bias weighed in on their decision.
The skinnier male jurors took the accusations to a step further.
The male pretend jurors were proven to be “significantly more likely” to find the obese female defendants—rather than the slim ones—guilty, but the slimmer male participants were the harshest, frequently labeling the fat women “repeat offenders” with “awareness” of their crimes.
Women were shown to have little to no weight bias towards any of the ‘defendants’ and there was no fat-bias by any gender when assessing male defendants.
An overweight person has a Body Mass Index of 25-30, over 30 is classified as obese. A normal weight BMI is 18.5-25. The American Medical Association lists that the average Americans’ BMI is 28.6.