A study found that those of muscular build were regarded as the most likely to commit crimes, followed by people of normal weight. Just 10% of those who were overweight were regarded as most likely to commit a crime.
Dr Julia Shaw, senior lecturer in criminology at London South Bank University, who carried out the study, said: “Stereotypes about body type may be getting in the way of justice.
“Our findings suggest that if you are an innocent suspect of a crime, but happen to be muscular, you may be at a significant disadvantage.
“Body type is often overlooked as a basis for discrimination, and has rarely been examined in legal contexts.”
The research on 93 people was published in the journal Psychiatry, Psychology and Law. The participants were shown one of two short videos, depicting a violent or non-violent robbery.
In one video, the victim had their wallet stolen, and then was violently assaulted.
The other video involved a wallet theft.
The thief was dressed in a way that concealed their body and face.
People were then asked to identify the thief from a suspect line-up of muscular, overweight, and normal suspects. The photos in the line-up had been previously altered so that each face in the line-up was randomly assigned a body-type.
The results found that 51% of participants accused muscular suspects of being the perpetrator in the video.
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