Reducing Fat Stigma in American Culture

By: Erica Stockwell-Alpert '14

Advising Faculty: Joan Chrisler

A large part of the population holds inaccurate beliefs about the causes and consequences of being fat. These beliefs include assuming that all overweight people "choose" to be fat, not understanding how difficult it is to lose weight (and keep it off), and the idea that overweight people cannot be healthy. In addition, many people hold an underlying aesthetic aversion to fat people that contributes to fat stigma. This research is designed to determine if the stigma can be reduced by correcting common beliefs regarding overweight individuals, as well as by reducing the aesthetic aversion using humanizing techniques. The study includes two experimental groups, one including an educational intervention, and one with the educational intervention in addition to a film about an overweight person's experiences. These conditions will be compared to a control condition which participants see a video about cat behavior. The results will be examined to determine what is the impact of accurate and compassionate information on attitudes toward overweight individuals.

This honors thesis may be viewed in its entirety at Digital Commons @ Connecticut College.

Related Fields: Psychology