Impact of social pressure on stereotypes about obese people

  • Jessica Harper
  • Robert A. Carels
Original Article



This study was designed to test the effects of different types of influence on the expression of stereotypes towards people who are obese. It was hypothesized that public social pressure would more significantly impact the expression of stereotypes towards obese people than other types of influence.


One-hundred fifty-eight undergraduate students were randomly assigned to one of three conditions or a control condition. Participants completed measures of stereotypes towards obese people prior to and after receiving manipulated feedback depicting purported stereotypes possessed by others (anonymously or publically) or scientific information about the base rates of these stereotypical traits in the obese population (i.e., trait prevalence). Participants also completed a measure of weight bias unrelated to the manipulated feedback.


Explicit beliefs were influenced more when people perceived that others’ views were inconsistent with their own in a public setting than an anonymous setting or when they received trait prevalence feedback. However, levels of weight bias on a separate measure were unchanged.


Strong, public manipulations of social feedback have great potential to impact, at least, the short-term expression of stereotypes towards obese people.


Weight stigma Weight bias Social pressure Attitudes change 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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