The Affective and Interpersonal Consequences of Obesity

67 Pages Posted: 2 May 2013 Last revised: 24 Aug 2016

See all articles by Emma Levine

Emma Levine

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Maurice E. Schweitzer

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department

Date Written: April 30, 2013

Abstract

The incidence of obesity in the United States has tripled over the past fifty years. A substantial literature has explored the health consequences of this epidemic, but little is known about the social consequences of obesity. Across five studies, we demonstrate that obesity signals low competence. We build on stereotype content research and demonstrate that obesity elicits the same affective and behavioral reactions as low competence. For example, obese individuals are more likely to be demeaned and excluded from social groups. However, we find that obesity has both affective costs and benefits. In addition to evoking negative emotions including disgust and contempt, obesity also evokes a positive emotion: sympathy. Displays of warmth influence the interpersonal consequences of obesity. Our findings demonstrate that social categorization is labile and we offer prescriptive advice for individuals seeking to change the way they are perceived by others.

Keywords: Stereotype Content Model, obesity, interpersonal affect

Suggested Citation

Levine, Emma and Schweitzer, Maurice E., The Affective and Interpersonal Consequences of Obesity (April 30, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2258688 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2258688

Emma Levine (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Maurice E. Schweitzer

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-4776 (Phone)
215-898-3664 (Fax)

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