College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

What's in a Name?: The Effects Of The Labels “Fat” Versus “Overweight” On Weight Bias

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-2011

Publication Title

Journal of Applied Social Psychology

ISSN

0021-9029

Volume

41

Issue/No.

8

Abstract

This research examined the effects of the labels “fat” vs. “overweight” in the expression of weight bias, with the prediction that the label “fat” biases individuals to respond more negatively than does the label “overweight.” In Study 1, participants' attitudes toward people labeled as fat were less favorable than were their attitudes toward people labeled as overweight. In Studies 2 and 3, although participants chose similar-sized figures to depict fat and overweight targets, weight stereotypes and weight attitudes were more negative toward people labeled as fat than those labeled as overweight. In addition, the endorsement of weight stereotypes mediated the biasing effect of the “fat” label on weight prejudice. Implications of this work for prejudice researchers and for public attitudes are discussed.

DOI

10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00786.x