This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Effects of Workplace Weight Discrimination on Social Pain Minimization and Interpersonal and Organizational Experiences




Johnson, Brielle

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Psychological Sciences


Although a majority of employees in the United States are considered medically overweight or obese, workplace weight discrimination is a pervasive and harmful experience that negatively impacts employees and organizations. The current research examined how emotion invalidation following weight discrimination is related to key indices of employee well-being. Heavier employees were expected to experience emotion invalidation, termed social pain minimization (SPM), in the workplace because of their stigmatized weight identity. Heavier people are regularly dehumanized and viewed with disgust, and weight-based discrimination is often viewed as socially acceptable relative to other forms of prejudice. Three studies provide converging support for workplace weight discrimination triggering actual and expected SPM, which in turn impacted perceptions of organizational support (POS), workplace belonging, and workplace ostracism. Using cross-sectional, experimental, and multi-wave designs, the current work provides a multimethod test of the hypothesized relationships between weight discrimination, SPM, POS, workplace belonging, and workplace ostracism. These results offer insights on the psychological processes linking workplace weight discrimination to negative outcomes and highlight the need for organizations and policymakers to protect employees from the harmful effects of weight discrimination at work.