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Body Image. 2015 Jan;12:32-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2014.09.002. Epub 2014 Oct 17.

Stereotypical portrayals of obesity and the expression of implicit weight bias.

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Psychology Department, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403, USA. Electronic address:
Psychology Department, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403, USA.


The strength of implicit anti-fat attitudes may be related to visual portrayals of obesity and individuals' pre-existing explicit attitudes toward appearance and weight. Participants (N=117) completed measures of explicit weight bias, beliefs about weight controllability, orientation toward personal appearance, overweight preoccupation, and two Implicit Association Tests (IAT). One IAT measured implicit anti-fat attitudes when individuals with obesity were shown engaging in behaviors congruent with common stereotypes (e.g., eating snacks, watching television), while a second IAT measured attitudes in response to stereotypically incongruent images (e.g., preparing vegetables, exercising). Whereas implicit weight bias was evident for both IATs, the stereotype congruent IAT was significantly related to higher implicit weight bias, appearance orientation, and overweight preoccupation, and was marginally related to explicit anti-fat attitudes. The stereotypical portrayal of individuals with obesity was related to implicit anti-fat attitudes, which may have implications for the development, maintenance, and expression of stigmatizing anti-fat attitudes.


Anti-fat; Appearance orientation; Implicit attitudes; Obesity; Weight bias

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