The first of its kind, a Yale University study was conducted regarding whether male jurors generally find obese women guilty, but didn’t show the same bias against obese males.
After 471 study participants viewed one of four pictures; a thin woman, an obese woman, a thin man or an obese man, and were asked if they thought that person was guilty of a hypothetical crime; being accused in an imaginary check fraud crime, on a scale of 1 to 5. The men were more likely to find the obese woman guilty than the thin woman.
“I think it’s one more nail in the coffin of how painful it is for people that are of larger sizes,” Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association. “These people could be healthy. We’re judging people. We’re making stereotypes. We did this with race years ago. We did it with religion.”
It is important to remember that obese people do not choose to be large. It is possible they have medical issues, genetic tendencies to be heavy or even a newly identified illness associated with binge eating. Some people associate obese people with laziness or sloppiness.
Lead researcher Natasha Schvey said that she and her team used the same woman twice, photo-shopping her to be both thin and obese. They did the same for the men.
Schvey found the results “disappointing but not entirely surprising.” She thinks men judge women more harshly than men, and women tend to be more sympathetic. She suggests that the men involved in the study are assuming guilt of these obese women due to their being “greedy” and “selfish.”
Grefe thinks there should be anti-discrimination laws for weight just as there are for race, religion and sexual orientation.
However, the director of the Center for Jury Studies said that such specific factors rarely make their way into actual jury verdicts. “Most of the studies of actual jury trials show that the weight of the evidence is the single most important factor affecting jury verdicts, Hannaford-Agor said. “Factors such as victim, defendant and juror demographic characteristics only account for a negligible portion of variation in jury verdicts.”
Is this study trying to say that if you gain too much weight, you are more likely to be assumed guilty of committing a crime? Does it imply that thin, guilty women stand a better chance of being acquitted than obese, innocent women?
What do you think about this study? Feel free to comment on this blog post. For more information, contact a Gacovino Lake attorney at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).