“Big men” in the office: The gender-specific influence of weight upon persuasiveness

Autoři: Kevin M. Kniffin aff001;  Vicki L. Bogan aff001;  David R. Just aff001
Působiště autorů: Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States of America aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(11)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222761


Height has been closely studied as a factor that influences myriad measures of leadership; however, the potential influence of weight on socially beneficial traits has been neglected. Using the anthropological concept of “big men” who relied on influence to lead their communities, we examine the role of weight upon persuasiveness. We present the results of six studies that suggest a tendency for raters to expect larger body mass to correspond with more persuasiveness among men. In the sixth, pre-registered study, we find evidence that fits the hypothesis that weight among men is positively associated with perceived persuasiveness. While the “big man” leadership concept is based on studies of pre-industrial societies where weight embodied status, our findings suggest an evolved bias to favor moderately big men–with respect to perceived persuasiveness–even in environments where there is no reason to interpret over-consumption of food and conservation of energy as a signal of wealth. Our studies contribute novel perspectives on the relevance of weight as an understudied dimension of “big” and offer an important qualification informed by evolutionary perspectives for the stigmatizing effects of relatively large body mass.

Klíčová slova:

Adults – Behavior – Body Mass Index – Evolutionary adaptation – Human evolution – Obesity – Social discrimination – Undergraduates


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