Obesity and Gender As Status Characteristics

Monday, July 14, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: Harbor Lounge A
Oral Presentation
Heather GORDON , UNC Charlotte
Lisa Slattery WALKER , Sociology, UNC Charlotte, Charlotte, NC
Jessie OLIEN , UNC Charlotte
For over 30 years, researchers have examined social influence and persuasion using Status Characteristics Theory (Berger and Conner 1974). While research has investigated beauty and attractiveness as status characteristics (e.g., Webster and Driskell 1983), no research to date has investigated obesity as a status characteristic. The current paper reviews the literature on influence and persuasion, demonstrating how they are related to status characteristics. Next, this paper demonstrates how the effects of both gender and obesity can be explained by considering them as status characteristics which have the potential to create subsequent status beliefs. Finally, the current study reports empirical findings that support obesity as a status characteristic. This study finds an effect for obesity on ratings of diffuse status, and effects for both obesity and gender on ratings of influence and persuasion.