Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate discrimination against obese job candidates, and to examine whether widely used measures of implicit and explicit antifat attitudes are related to or predict antifat discrimination.
Methods and Procedures: One hundred university students made job candidate suitability ratings of resumes submitted for a bogus managerial position. Photos attached to each resume portrayed the job candidate as either obese or normal weight, by using pre- and postprocedure photos of individuals who had undergone bariatric surgery. To assess discrimination, job candidates' ratings were compared between obese and normal-weight targets. Implicit and explicit antifat attitudes were also assessed.
Results: Participants rated obese job candidates as having less leadership potential, as less likely to succeed, and as less likely to be employed than normal-weight candidates. Obese candidates were also given a lower starting salary and ranked as less qualified overall than candidates portrayed as normal weight. Neither implicit nor explicit antifat attitude measures were significantly related to antifat discrimination.
Discussion: This study found strong evidence of employment-related discrimination against obese individuals. Commonly used measures of antifat attitudes do not appear to be adequate predictors of antifat discrimination. Improved questionnaire measures may be needed to better predict actual prejudiced behavior.