Can raising awareness about the psychological causes of obesity reduce obesity stigma?


Obesity stigma largely remains a socially acceptable bias with harmful outcomes for its victims. While many accounts have been put forward to explain the bias, the role of obesity etiology beliefs has received little scrutiny. The research examined the effect that beliefs about the psychological etiology of obesity have on the expression of obesity stigma and the mechanisms underpinning this effect. Participants (N = 463) were asked to evaluate a target person with obesity after reading one of three possible etiologies: psychological, genetic, or behavioral. The presentation of a psychological etiology of obesity elicited less prejudice compared to behavioral causes but greater prejudice compared to genetic causes; observed differences were found to be a function of the agency ascribed to the target’s obesity and empathy expressed for the target. The findings highlight the impact that communicating obesity in terms of psychological causes can have for the expression of obesity stigma.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences
College of Health & Life Sciences > Chronic and Communicable Conditions
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Health Communication on 19/2/17, available online:
Uncontrolled Keywords: obesity stigma,obesity aetiology,psychological causes,agency,empathy,Health(social science),Communication
Publication ISSN: 1532-7027
Last Modified: 17 May 2024 07:13
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2017 09:20
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2018-05-04
Published Online Date: 2017-02-19
Accepted Date: 2017-02-19
Authors: Khan, Sammyh S.
Tarrant, Mark
Weston, Dale
Shah, Pooja
Farrow, Claire (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-3745-6610)



Version: Accepted Version

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