Weight Bias Against University Acceptance

A weight bias study in the Journal General of Psychology showed that people are likely to give preference to women of relatively healthy weight (BMI greater than 15 and less than 30) when selecting which woman would be appropriate for acceptance at a university. One hundred and ninety-eight volunteers were shown photos of women in a range of body sizes and asked to state which woman they would be most likely and which they would be least likely to recommend for acceptance at a university.

In addition, participants completed four tests that help evaluate attitudes and weight bias toward people with extra weight and obesity: the Anti-Fat Attitudes Survey, the short form of the Fat Phobia Scale, the Attitude Toward Obese Persons Scale, and the Beliefs About Obese Persons Scale. Overall, women with BMI of less than 15 (emaciated) and greater than 30 (obese) were least likely to be recommended for acceptance. Weight bias was predicted by greater antipathy toward people with obesity and more negative attitudes toward people with obesity.

The authors note that these results may reflect an public expectations about access to higher education, more than the actual admissions process. They reflect an implicit general belief that access to higher education is or should be a function of body size.

Click here to read the study in the Journal of General Psychology.

Western Reserve College Admission Ticket from Cloudbound / Wikimedia