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Body Weight Bias in Hiring Decisions: Identifying Explanatory Mechanisms

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We examined the impact of job applicant body weight on employability ratings via the mediators of obesity and physical attractiveness stereotypes, organizational costs, and rational bias. The moderating effect of job type was also examined. A sample of 202 (75% female) university students assessed a job applicant on the basis of a résumé which was accompanied by a photograph (overweight vs. average weight) and a position description (face-to-face vs. telephone sales). Results revealed that the overweight applicant was rated significantly higher on the obesity stereotype, significantly lower on the physical attractiveness stereotype, and as significantly less employable. Stereotypes failed to mediate between applicant weight and employability, and rational bias only was found to be a significant mediator. There was no significant interaction between applicant weight and job type when the mediators were controlled. Our findings in this study underscore the importance of examining multiple pathways from applicant weight to employment-related weight discrimination.
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Keywords: BODY WEIGHT BIAS; EMPLOYABILITY RATINGS; HIRING DECISIONS; JOB TYPE; OBESITY STEREOTYPE; ORGANIZATIONAL COSTS; PHYSICAL ATTRACTIVENESS STEREOTYPE; RATIONAL BIAS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 April 2014

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