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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1983 Oct;45(4):926-34.

Obesity, externality, and susceptibility to social influence: an integrated analysis.


A pilot study indicated that overweight subjects are more likely to order a particular dessert in a restaurant when the waitress provides an appetizing description of that dessert and encourages the diner to order it; subjects who were not overweight were much less affected by the waitress's behavior. This effect may be interpreted in terms of the greater "externality' of overweight persons (i.e., their greater reactivity to salient food cues); alternatively, it may be seen as evidence for greater compliance by deviant (overweight) individuals. The present study examined these alternatives by separating the perceptual-cues component of the waitress's behavior from the social-influence component in a replication of the pilot study. The results indicated that both the externality and compliance interpretations were tenable. The authors suggest that these two mechanisms may be seen as facets of a more general concern on the part of overweight people to secure behavioral guidance from the external environment, physical or social.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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