Obesity as a status cue: perceived social status and the stereotypes of obese individuals


  • The authors thank Emily Kaier for her assistance with this research and Michael Conway for his helpful comments on the manuscript.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lenny R. Vartanian, School of Psychology, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia. E-mail: lvartanian@psy.unsw.edu.au


Two studies examined the relationship between social status and obesity stereotypes. In Study 1, obese individuals were seen as having lower status than non-obese individuals, and status ratings were positively correlated with common obesity stereotypes. In Study 2, targets were depicted as overweight or lean, and as having a high-status or low-status job. High-status heavy targets were rated as less lazy and more competent than were their low-status counterparts, but status did not impact ratings of sloppiness or warmth. The findings indicate that obesity can serve as a status cue. Furthermore, the findings provide preliminary evidence that status is related to the attribution of certain stereotypes to obese individuals, while also highlighting the multifaceted nature of obesity stereotypes.