Mindsets of Body Weight

  • Jeni L. BurnetteEmail author
  • Crystal L. Hoyt
  • Kasey Orvidas


Obesity is currently the second leading cause of death in many industrialized nations, leading to various campaigns aimed at increasing awareness. Thus, the public is constantly bombarded with messages about the etiology of obesity and presented with strategies for prevention (e.g., the obesity is a disease decision by the American Medical Association in the United States versus the Change4Life campaign in the United Kingdom, which focuses on eating less and moving more). These weight management messages highlight the fundamental issue of whether people should believe that body weight is a fixed entity or malleable attribute. Such a lay belief is often termed an implicit theory or mindset. In the current chapter, we offer an overview of the empirical research regarding the consequences of these weight-based mindsets for a range of significant outcomes—from self-regulation, to fat stigma, to body shame. Overall, believing weight is changeable predicts more effective self-regulation and can also lead to reduced shame and stigma, if blame can be reduced. The discussion outlines implications of weight-based mindsets for interventions and highlights avenues for future inquiry.


Implicit theories Weight Obesity Self-regulation Body shame Stigma 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeni L. Burnette
    • 1
    Email author
  • Crystal L. Hoyt
    • 2
  • Kasey Orvidas
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Jepson School of Leadership StudiesUniversity of RichmondVirginiaUSA

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