Imagine that! The effect of counterstereotypic imagined intergroup contact on weight bias.

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Journal Article

Objective: Higher body-weight people are highly stigmatized and face prejudice and discrimination across a number of domains. Further, experiences of weight stigmatization are associated with a host of negative physical, psychological, and social consequences. However, less is known about effective means for reducing weight bias. One strategy that has shown some success in prejudice reduction, yet is relatively untested for weight bias, is imagined intergroup contact. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of counterstereotypic imagined intergroup contact on weight bias. Method: Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 experimental conditions or a control group. In the experimental conditions, participants were asked to imagine interactions with either a counterstereotypic (e.g., confident, attractive) or stereotypic (e.g., unattractive, insecure) 'obese' person. Participants then completed the Anti-fat Attitudes Questionnaire (dislike subscale; Crandall, 1994; Quinn & Crocker, 1999), the Universal Measure of Bias–Fat (negative judgment and social distance subscales; Latner et al., 2008), and the Fat Phobia Scale. Results: Results indicated that participants in the counterstereotypic condition reported lower levels of weight bias (dislike, negative judgment, and social distance) than participants in the stereotypic and control conditions. Conclusion: These findings highlight the potential usefulness of counterstereotypic imagined contact to reduce weight bias. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Health Psychology
Type of Article
Journal Article
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Participants Participants were recruited through’s Mechanical Turk (mTurk) service. [...] Approximately 471 individuals responded to the Human Intelligence Task (HIT) posted in the mTurk marketplace and began the survey. [...] The final sample consisted of data from 329 participants. The average age was 22.67 years (SD = 1.89, range = 18 –25), and 53.2% (n = 175) were women. A majority of the participants identified as White/Caucasian (79.4%, n = 263), with the remainder identifying as Asian (10.9%, n = 36), Black/African American (8.5%, n = 28), Hispanic/Latino/a (5.8%, n = 19), Native American/American Indian (1.2%, n = 4), or other (0.9%). Based on self-reported height and weight, the mean body mass index (BMI) for participants was 25.16 kg/m2 (SD = 5.47; range = 16.69 –55.12).

Procedure [...] participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: counterstereotypic, stereotypic, or a neutral control. [...] participants completed the weight bias measures and provided demographic information. [...]

Counterstereotypic imagined contact condition. Participants in the counterstereotypic condition read the following instructions. [Text Stimulus 1...]

Stereotypic imagined contact condition. Participants in the stereotypic condition were given instructions identical to those in the counterstereotypic condition, except that they were asked to imagine a [Text Stimulus 2...].

Control condition. Participants in the control condition read the following instructions: [Text Stimulus 3...]

Measures Weight bias. A 10-item modified version of the dislike subscale of the Anti-fat Attitudes scale was used to assess participants’ antipathy toward higher body-weight individuals [...] Each item was measured using a 9-point Likert scale from very strongly disagree to very strongly agree, with higher scores indicating more antipathy toward higher body-weight people. [...] The Universal Measure of Bias–Fat Version (UMB-Fat) was also used to measure weight bias. [...] Responses were measured on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. [...]

Weight-based stereotypes. The Fat Phobia Scale (shortened form) is a reliable and valid measure which assesses the tendency to attribute various stereotypes to higher body-weight persons. [...]

Type of Prejudice/Bias