Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Weight bias plagues U.S. elections, study finds

Date:
May 19, 2014
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Overweight political candidates tend to receive fewer votes than their thinner opponents, finds a new study by a weight bias expert. Both obese men and women were less likely to get on the ballot in the first place. When it came to merely being overweight, women were underrepresented on the ballot, though men were not. This is consistent with previous research showing men who are slightly heavy tend not to experience discrimination like that of slightly overweight women.

Overweight political candidates tend to receive fewer votes than their thinner opponents, finds a new study co-authored by a Michigan State University weight bias expert.

While past research has found weight discrimination in schools, businesses, entertainment and other facets of American society, this is the first scientific investigation into whether that bias extends to election outcomes, said Mark Roehling, professor of human resources.

"We found weight had a significant effect on voting behavior," Roehling said. "Additionally, the greater size disparity between candidates, the greater the vote share of the more slender candidate."

Before he became a university professor, Roehling was a human resources manager at a Fortune 100 corporation and a civil attorney who specialized in employment cases such as wrongful discharge and discrimination.

For the study, he and his wife, Patricia Roehling, a psychology professor at Hope College, analyzed data from the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Senate elections. Using a previously established scientific method, research assistants determined from color photos whether the candidates in 126 primary and general elections were normal weight, overweight or obese.

Both obese men and women were less likely to get on the ballot in the first place. When it came to merely being overweight, women were underrepresented on the ballot, though men were not. This is consistent with previous research showing men who are slightly heavy tend not to experience discrimination like that of slightly overweight women.

However, when it came to the voting, both male and female candidates -- whether obese or simply overweight -- got a lower share of the vote total than their more slender opponents.

"The study," said Roehling, "provides evidence that the bias and discrimination against the overweight and obese that has been documented in the areas of employment, education, health care and social situations also extends to the electoral process in the United States."

The study was published online in May in the research journal Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Patricia V. Roehling, Mark V. Roehling, Ashli Brennan, Ashley R. Drew, Abbey J. Johnston, Regina G. Guerra, Ivy R. Keen, Camerra P. Lightbourn, Alexis H. Sears. Weight bias in US candidate selection and election. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 2014; 33 (4): 334 DOI: 10.1108/EDI-10-2013-0081

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Weight bias plagues U.S. elections, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140519160753.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2014, May 19). Weight bias plagues U.S. elections, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140519160753.htm
Michigan State University. "Weight bias plagues U.S. elections, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140519160753.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bank of America's $17 Bln Settlement

Bank of America's $17 Bln Settlement

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 21, 2014) Bank of America's settlement is by far the largest amount paid by big banks facing mortgage securities probes. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Families Can Now Ask Twitter To Remove Photos Of Deceased

Families Can Now Ask Twitter To Remove Photos Of Deceased

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) In the wake of a high-profile harassment case, Twitter says family members can ask for photos of dying or dead relatives to be taken down. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Reasons Why Teen Birth Rates Are At An All-Time Low

Reasons Why Teen Birth Rates Are At An All-Time Low

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A CDC report says birth rates among teenagers have been declining for decades, reaching a new low in 2013. We look at several popular explanations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins