Social – prejudice

Social – prejudice

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‘Choose one type of prejudice. Using evidence from psychology research, critically discuss whether this type of prejudice is on the decline or whether it is still a

prominent feature of today’s society.’

Anti-fat prejudice essay – is it on the decline?

‘Choose one type of prejudice. Using evidence from psychology research, critically discuss whether this type of prejudice is on the decline or whether it is still a

prominent feature of today’s society.’

Anti-fat prejudice essay – is it on the decline?


Does the essay answer the question?

Is the essay structured in a logical way?

Do the introductory and concluding paragraphs work effectively to introduce the issue and summarise conclusions?

Is the answer evidence based? Is it factually correct? Is all the material cited relevant to the question?

Is sufficient reference made to primary sources (e.g. journal articles)?

Is there evidence of critical appraisal of the sources, discussion of problems of research methodology etc?

Are all references cited in the text in the bibliography?

Are the citations and the references in the bibliography in the correct form? APA

My thoughts:

Definitions – ‘ fat’ – ironic that ‘normal’ in the literature refers to the population that wouldn’t be considered overweight, while majority (67.2% of population are

overweight (REF?) (baseline of studies incorrect?!) + despite overweight being normal, a prejudice against fat people prevails.

Argument = Anti-fat bias is still a prominent feature of today’s society… despite the increase in obesity, the research overwhelmingly suggests bias against fat people

is still a pervasive attitude held by society at large. …

Anti-fat attitudes are created and perpetuated by the media –(worryingly, now more exposure than ever due to internet on mobile phones + picture apps like instagram)-

which (particularly for women, but also the case for men) places huge emphasis (and critique) on people’s appearance, strongly implying that society value’s beauty

over brains; drawing on the notion of ‘what is beautiful is good’, tying in with socially constructed ideology + it could be argued that anti-fat bias is actively

promoted (Explicit scales reveal similar levels of bias (refs?!)

? pressure ?induces shame? internalised hatred for a body which isn’t perfect ? eating problems? /emotional eating to ‘self-medicate’ ..(results in a problematic

relationship with food) But diets don’t work – end up putting all the weight back on and more (see TED talk for stats)—vicious cycle.
Shame – Bias made worse by evidence of a tendency for people of this prejudiced group to not identify with it – no solidarity /In-group favouritism? (e.g. fat people

hold the bias for fat people too).

Solution? (put in conclusion or not at all!!) = couple campaigns about valuing your body + positivity with advice on how to live a balanced healthy lifestyle (for

reasons other than weight) + focus on things OTHER THAN looks — media should promote valuing people (especially women) for qualities such as kindness, intelligence…

Anti-fat attitudes are prominent in all echelons of society:

Lecture notes:

Evidence for Anti-fat bias in children and adolescents:
1961 – The obese child was the one other children least preferred. – compared to people with physical difficulties – relative discrimination. – this study didn’t show

children’s own weight, but find fat children have same bias – no in-group solidarity.
2001 – repeated the study. Bias worsened (statistical difference). (Latner & Stunkard, 2003)

13-18 yr olds – Fat people ostracized within social groups (Strauss & Pollack, 2003)

10-14 yr olds – People who have been teased about their weight are more likely to have disordered eating (Neumark-Sztainer et al., 2002) – link to paper that shows

internalizing bias leads to overeating study (Puhl, R. M., Moss-Racusin, C. A., & Schwartz, M. B. (2007). Internalization of Weight Bias: Implications for Binge Eating

and Emotional Well-being. Obesity,15(1), 19-23.).
+ more damaging = “Unlike stigma encountered by other marginalized groups, the stigma of obesity is somewhat unique in that both obese and average-weight people report

similar levels of dislike toward overweight persons as a group, suggesting NO PROTECTIVE IN-GROUP BIAS” (Crandall, 1994, as cited by Teachman et al., 2003).
-? being anti-fat it socially acceptable (even encouraged?) – see ‘Prejudice Against Fat People: Ideology and Self-Interest’ by Crandall, 1994.

In the workplace:
–    Evidence of a gender interaction – when making hiring decisions, discrimination worse for overweight women (Pingitore, Dugoni, Tindale & Spring, 1994)
–    Hiring and proximity to an overweight women less likely to be hired (Hebl & Mannix, 2003)
–    Overweight in adolescence linked to lower salaries – women only (Gortmaker et al, 1993) + both overweight men and women less likely to be married if overweight

in adolescence ? personal relationships

In personal relationships:
–    potential sexual partners (Chen & Brown, 2005)
–    Obese women viewed as less sexually attractive (Regan, 1996)
–    No link to marital satisfaction – Obese women reported less marital unhappiness (Sobal, Rauschenbach, & Frongillo 1995)

In Health care:
o    Healthcare professionals’ implicit attitudes (Teachman & Brownell, 2001)
o    Physicians would spend less time with heavier patients (Hebl & Xu, 2001)

Individual Differences:

–    Gender – Greater effect for women (see above)
–    Ethnicity – White women more biased than Black women (Hebl & Heatherton, 1998)
–    Culture – Individualistic cultures hold greater anti-fat attitudes (Crandall et al., 2001)
–    BMI – Those with low BMIs (not trying to lose weight themselves) had significantly higher levels of dislike of overweight individuals following exposure to

‘The Biggest Loser’ than did controls (‘The effects of Reality tv on Weight Bias: An examination of ‘The Biggest Loser’. Domoff et al, 2012) — > link to

influence/role of MEDIA in fat shaming and perpetuating prejudice. + but sample was mostly white females (who are more biased anyway – see above) + men poorly


Effect on self-esteem:
Overweight women (Crocker, Cornwell & Major, 1993) –
Overweight + ‘normal’ (normal in UK is size 16!!)
Man in next room gave negative feedback  – > women attributed it to their weight ? had lower self esteem – because weight is controllable, attributing to prejudice

does not protect them from lowered self esteem (like it has been shown to with other stigmatised groups).

? Anti-fat bias is growing rapidly, in a perpetuating cycle. Because:
1.    No group solidarity to want to change perceptions (i.e. not enough people to force a movement – e.g. the media actively encourages fat-shaming)
2.    Internalize fat ? get fatter

It’s on the decline: The ‘Fat Acceptance movement’?!: (Acknowledge this point of view, but criticize methodology of studies that support this view)

STRUCTURE!!! + ADD MORE RECENT (2013/4/5) REFERENCES (total = 30)


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