The Affective and Interpersonal Consequences of Obesity
67 Pages Posted: 2 May 2013 Last revised: 24 Aug 2016
Date Written: April 30, 2013
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
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