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Anti-fat prejudice among children: The mere proximity effect in 5-10 year olds

Penny, Helen Louise and Haddock, Geoffrey 2007. Anti-fat prejudice among children: The mere proximity effect in 5-10 year olds. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 43 (4) , pp. 678-683. 10.1016/j.jesp.2006.07.002

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Abstract

Research has shown that average-weight individuals are derogated when viewed next to overweight background individuals, rather than next to average-weight background individuals (Hebl, M. R., & Mannix L. M. (2003). The weight of obesity in evaluating others: A mere proximity effect. Personalilty and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 28–38). The aim of the present investigation was to determine whether this mere proximity effect would be obtained among children, and to determine how participant gender, target character gender and size, and background character size affect this finding. Eighty-nine children between 5 and 10 years old indicated whether they would like to be friends with a target character, who was either male or female and average-weight or overweight. The target was presented with four other background characters of the same gender, all of whom were either average-weight or overweight. The results showed that overall, overweight targets were liked significantly less than average-weight targets, though this effect was moderated by target gender. Furthermore, participants liked average-weight female targets significantly less when they were presented with overweight background characters, and liked overweight female targets significantly less when they were presented with average-weight background characters. This was not the case for male targets. These findings support the mere proximity effect for female targets and demonstrate that this effect is present in children as young as five years of age. The implications are discussed with regards to obesity stigma.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0022-1031
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2017 10:58
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/3304

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