Title

The Roles of Group Identity and Ideology in Examining the Effects of Social Consensus on Weight Bias

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Psychology/Clinical

First Advisor

Robert Carels

Second Advisor

William O'Brien (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Dara Musher-Eizenman (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Nancy Orel (Committee Member)

Abstract

Weight bias is strongly influenced by multiple sources, including attributions of blame,social consensus, and ideological beliefs. Social consensus interventions have shown promise in reducing weight bias, especially when the consensus information comes from an in-group. No research has looked at the effects of social consensus when coming from an individual’s in-group based on weight status. Given that overweight and obese individuals appear to lack a strong ingroup identity, it is possible that social consensus could be less effective in reducing bias for these individuals compared to normal weight individuals, who appear to possess a strong ingroup identity. This study sought to determine the effects of social consensus based on weight status on both explicit and implicit weight bias for normal weight and overweight individuals. The study also sought to determine whether Protestant work ethic and just world beliefs would moderate these effects and lessen the effects of social consensus. Participants included approximately 110 students at Bowling Green State University. The current study found an impact of social consensus feedback on positive explicit bias, as well as negative explicit bias when covariates were not controlled for. Group identification, just world beliefs, and Protestant work ethic beliefs did not moderate the relationship between social consensus feedback and explicit and implicit bias. However, individuals receiving feedback from their in-group demonstrated decreased implicit bias whereas individuals receiving feedback from their outgroup demonstrated increased implicit bias. Further research is needed to learn about the impact of social consensus on explicit and implicit bias, as well as the moderators of this relationship.