A Web-Based Weight Prejudice Intervention Targeting Individuals with Body Image Issues and Disordered Eating




Ferguson, Lauren

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Disordered eating and body image issues may have consequences for how the individual views and treats others. Current theories on weight related prejudice hypothesize that internal stigma (a negative attitude toward oneself) may be projected as external prejudice (a negative attitude or discriminatory behaviors toward members of an out-group). As people with disordered eating and/or body image issues show high rates of internal stigma, they may be disposed to demonstrate high rates of external prejudice. Moreover, they may be less affected by an experimental manipulation that decreases antifat attitudes because internalized stigma and strong attitudes are more resistant to change. Participants (N=219) were randomly assigned to one of two conditions, a persuasion condition and a control condition. In the persuasion condition, subjects read a persuasive message concerning weight metabolism and genetics. In the control condition, subjects read about the role of psychological stress on mental illness. They then were presented with a series of scales to measure explicit and implicit weight-related prejudice and internalized weight stigma. Afterward, participants were asked to complete an assessment of disordered eating and body image issues. The results show correlations between internalized weight stigma, and explicit and implicit forms of weight prejudice. I discuss the limitations of a small sample size, resulting in an underpowered study. Further research is needed to determine if disordered eating and/or body image moderates the strength of weight prejudice interventions.