Uniform TitleThe effects of causal beliefs on the stigmatization of obesity
NameBannon, Katie (author), Wilson, G. (chair), Contrada, Richard (co-chair), Karlin, Robert (co-chair), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Stigma (Social psychology)
DescriptionWeight disorders and overeating are increasingly being labeled as addictions. It is important to identify and understand the consequences of this label for the stigmatization of obese individuals, the treatments to which they are assigned, and the anticipated outcomes of those treatments. This study was designed to determine whether causal beliefs about the etiology of obesity affect participants' attitudes toward obese individuals. It also examined participants' beliefs about prognoses and appropriate treatments. In a 2x3 between-subjects design, undergraduate students from Rutgers University (N=374) were assigned randomly to one of six conditions. Participants read a scenario about either an obese woman or an obese woman with binge eating disorder (BED) followed by an account of the cause of her obesity as a psychological disorder, a biological addiction, or a disorder of ambiguous origins (Cause). Participants then completed a battery of questionnaires designed to assess stigma and beliefs about the person and her treatment and prognosis. The Cause manipulation check revealed no difference between groups and there were no significant differences between the Cause conditions on any of the dependent measures. Participants in the obesity with BED condition rated obese persons as less attractive and more to blame for their weight, and indicated that they desired more social distance from obese persons compared with participants in the non binge eating condition. Participants also judged obese persons with binge eating disorder as having a more severe illness, to be more likely to drop out of treatment, and rated their illness as less curable. The demonstration of the importance of obese persons' behavior (binge-eating) has important implications for understanding the stigmatization of this disorder. Future work should examine treatment attributions and prognostic beliefs of mental and physical health professionals, and of obese individuals with and without binge eating disorder. Efforts at stigma reduction should target binge eating as well as obesity.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 41-44).
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.