The Effect of Context on the Evaluation of Obese vs. Average-Weight Children As a Function of Antifat Attitude

Stephanie McShane, The College of Wooster


The current study examined the stigma related to obesity, specifically, the effect that stereotype-consistent and stereotype-inconsistent activity contexts have on individuals' evaluations of obese and average-weight target children. Subjects viewed a photo of an obese or average-weight boy, accompanied by a vignette that indicated his enjoyment of either videogames or soccer, and rated him on several traits. Then, subjects completed a questionnaire measuring their explicit antifat attitudes and took an Implicit Association Test measuring their implicit antifat attitudes. I hypothesized that the obese target would be evaluated more negatively than the average-weight target, and that the obese target would be rated the most negatively when he played videogames, and the most positively when he played soccer. I also hypothesized that subjects' antifat attitudes would moderate these interactions. Univariate Analyses of Variance were conducted to analyze data, and results indicated that the obese target was rated more negatively than the average-weight target, and that the interactions between weight and activity condition were significant only when examining participants with low antifat attitudes. Those who indicated high antifat attitudes rated the obese target more negatively than the average-weight target across activity conditions. Implications of these findings are discussed from an educational standpoint, and encourage future research in the area of weight-based stigma and its effects on children's health and academics.