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Study Examines Perceptions of Hotel Employees Based on Weight

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A new study examines the effects of gender and weight stereotypes in the hospitality industry at a time when higher weight is increasingly common in the United States.

A new study found that heavier female hotel employees are thought to be more competent and kind than women who weigh less, according to data of 169 people surveyed, which was recently published by Cornell Hospitality Quarterly.

The perceptions based on women and their weight also predicted increased positive evaluations of the hotel. The weight of male desk agents had no impact on perceptions of the hotel.

“The average weight of employees in the United States workforce is increasing; importantly, relatively heavier employees are often subject to stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination based solely on their weight,” according to the study’s abstract.

“We found that weight and gender interacted to influence warmth, such that heavy women were perceived to be higher in warmth relative to less heavy women (with no effect for men),” the abstract said. “Furthermore, perceptions of warmth predicted service satisfaction, whereas perceptions of competence did not.”

The study found perceptions of warmth, not competence, explained the relations between weight and gender and service satisfaction for female, but not male, customer service representatives.

The study was conducted by Larry Martinez, assistant professor of hospitality management and doctoral student Nicholas Smith at Penn State, along with Isaac Sabat at George Mason University.

[Photo: Getty]

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