Gender and Weight Differences in External and Internal Weight-based Stigma
Davies, Chelsey Amber
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Background: Weight has become a great concern to many (Brownell, 2005), with research highlighting not only the physical dangers of being overweight, but also the psychological and social hazards (Puhl & Brownell, 2001). Interest into poor psychological functioning has highlighted the association weight-based stigma can have on depression, body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, and other psychological disturbances (Wang et al., 2004; Puhl & Brownell, 2006). Aim: This project aimed to explore external and internal weight-based stigma in society using a normal weight population. The objective was to distinguish any gender and weight differences in external weight-based stigma; to explore gender and weight differences in internalised weight stigma; and to determine if there is a discrepancy between perceived weight and actual weight. Methods: One hundred and seventy two participants were recruited in order to explore external and internal weight-based stigma. Forty seven men and 125 women took part in the study. Participants were provided a web link directing them the questionnaire package where they completed a 14-item Revised Weight Bias Internalisation Scale (RWBIS; Durso & Latner, 2008), a 20-item Attitudes toward Obese Persons Scale (ATOP; Allison et al., 1991), and a basic demographic questionnaire. Results: No gender differences were found in attitudes toward the overweight or obese (p>0.05). It was shown that those with a BMI of 30≥kg/m² scored significantly lower than those who were a normal weight or overweight on the ATOP (p<0.05). It was also shown that men scored higher than females on the RWBIS (p<0.05). Furthermore, a negative correlation was shown between BMI and the RWBIS (p<0.01) but no differences were found between BMI group and the RWBIS (p>0.05). Finally result show a difference between perceived weight and actual weight (p<0.001) however, any observed differences are only an indication of this relationship. Conclusions: The study provides further research to the area of weight-based stigma. Findings suggests that internal weight stigma was slightly higher in men but not massively so, and that this form self-directed stigma it is experienced across most weight statuses.
BSc (Hons) Psychology
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