Applying the contact hypothesis to anti-fat attitudes: contact with overweight people is related to how we interact with our bodies and those of others

Alperin, Anandi, Hornsey, Matthew J., Hayward, Lydia E., Diedrichs, Phillippa C. and Barlow, Fiona Kate (2014) Applying the contact hypothesis to anti-fat attitudes: contact with overweight people is related to how we interact with our bodies and those of others. Social Science and Medicine, 123 37-44. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.10.051


Author Alperin, Anandi
Hornsey, Matthew J.
Hayward, Lydia E.
Diedrichs, Phillippa C.
Barlow, Fiona Kate
Title Applying the contact hypothesis to anti-fat attitudes: contact with overweight people is related to how we interact with our bodies and those of others
Journal name Social Science and Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1873-5347
0277-9536
Publication date 2014-12-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.10.051
Volume 123
Start page 37
End page 44
Total pages 8
Place of publication Kidlington, Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Elsevier
Collection year 2015
Abstract This paper is the first to apply the contact hypothesis, a social psychological theory of prejudice reduction, to the field of weight bias. It aims to investigate whether contact with overweight people is associated with the extent to which people report weight bias, as well as vigilance around their own bodies. In 2013 we recruited 1176 American participants to complete surveys regarding prejudice toward overweight people, as well as a suite of measures capturing people's relationships with their own weight (fat talk, drive for thinness, and body-checking behavior). Positive contact with overweight people predicted decreased prejudice, regardless of whether participants were overweight (. p<.001) or not (. p=.003). However, negative contact was a stronger predictor of increased prejudice (. p<.001 for both samples). For non-overweight participants, any contact with overweight people (whether positive or negative) predicted increased body-checking behaviors (positive-. p=.002, negative-. p<.001) and fat talk (positive-. p=.047, negative-. p<.001), and negative contact predicted increased drive for thinness (. p<.001). However, for those who were overweight a different picture emerged. While negative contact predicted increased body-checking behaviors (. p<.001) and fat talk (. p<.001), positive contact was protective, predicting decreased drive for thinness (. p=.001) and body-checking behaviors (. p<.001). This paper demonstrates that the interactions we have with overweight people are inherently tied to both our attitudes towards them and our relationship with our own bodies.
Keyword Anti-fat attitudes
Discrimination
Obesity
Prejudice
Stigma
United States
Weight bias
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
 
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