MALE JURORS FIND OVERWEIGHT WOMEN “GUILTY” OF CRIMES
More than slender women
January 11, 2013
(MONROE, WA) -- You’ve heard the old bromide he or she “got a fair trial” by a jury of his or her peers?
You may not buy that line anymore after reading this.
According to a new study by Yale psychologists released this month, male jurors – but not female jurors – are more likely to hand down a guilty verdict in a trial to obese women than to slender women.
The study involved 471 pretend “peers” of varying body sizes. Researchers then described to these 471 people a case of check fraud and within that description of fraud the researchers also gave them one of four images:
~ A large man
~ A lean man
~ A large woman
~ A lean woman
and then identified for the mock jurors the person in the photograph as the defendant in the case.
The study’s “jurors” rated the pretend-defendant’s guilt on a five-point scale.
They found that no “fat bias” emerged when the female jurors evaluated the female defendants or when either men or women assessed the guilt of the men.
But lo and behold when the men jurors handed down judgment on the female defendants, a prejudice against fat women came into play.
According to piece in Slate about the research, “The study offers further depressing insights. Not only did the male pretend jurors prove “significantly more likely” to find the obese female defendants — rather than the slim ones — guilty, but the trim male participants were worst of all, frequently labeling the fat women “repeat offenders” with “awareness” of their crimes.
And because the effect disappeared when the photographs depicted a man, the hypothesis that subjects were simply layering “class-based assumptions” — such as “poor people are more often overweight” and “poor people commit more crime”— on top of one another falls a bit short.”
So what’s happening here in cases involving overweight women?
One of the researchers suggests that “stereotypes about obese people paint them as greedy, selfish, and thus prone to defrauding checks.”
Find more on the story here