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Weight bias proven for female candidates

Mark Roehling professor of human resources at Michigan State University and Patricia Roehling, a psychology professor at Hope College, are the first to document a weight bias that is demonstrated in both male and female candidates for public office. The researchers published their study in the May 19, 2014, edition of the journal Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion. This is the first research that includes the variety of appeal of weight and obesity to the voting public.

Republican political consultant Karl Rove attends the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center April 25, 2013, in Dallas, Texas.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The findings were based on a statistical analysis of the elections for the U. S. Senate between 2008 and 2012. The results indicate that voters prefer a thinner candidate to a person who is over weight or obese. The effect of weight bias was found to be more apparent in female candidates than in male candidates.

A candidate’s weight or their appearance of obesity had no effect on getting on the slate for election to public office. The candidate’s weight did have an effect on voter appeal. Thinner candidates had a higher chance of winning elections than overweight or obese candidates. Males suffered less bias than females when it came to weight as a factor in elections.

Voters have a weight bias that presents itself in voting for candidates that are thinner. The researchers do not express a reason for the preference but health may be a factor. It is strange that a population that is almost 32 percent overweight has a preference for people that are thinner as leaders.

Politics is definitely a game of appearance. The research indicates that weight is definitely a factor in the potential for a candidate to be elected to office. One might consider the weight effect n the ongoing diatribe that Karl Rove has launched against Hillary Clinton as a possible Democratic candidate. Rove has yet to mention Ms. Clinton’s weight as a factor against her ability to be President of the United States. This may be because Rove himself would be considered overweight by the majority of Republicans and Democrats.

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