A Comparison of Implicit and Explicit Weight Bias

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  • Topic: Obesity, Implicit Association Test
  • Pages : 4 (1309 words )
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  • Published : February 1, 2008
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A Comparison of Implicit and Explicit Measures of Weight Bias Renee Szostak

In the present study, the results of the fat-thin Implicit Association Test (IAT) were compared with the results of explicit surveys in ten Indiana University undergraduates. The purpose of this study was to determine if there was a significant correlation between subjects' results on the IAT and their responses in the explicit survey. Our survey was designed to measure the same bias that the IAT was measuring. We hypothesized that there would be a correlation between subjects' responses to the explicit surveys and the IAT but that the explicit survey responses would be less biased towards fat people than the results provided by the IAT due to subjects not wanting to admit their true preferences and a lack of introspective access to implicity assessed representations. No significant correlation was found between the IAT and the individual survey questions we chose to compare, although we did find a significant relationship between the scores on the IAT and the average of all responses to the survey questions for each individual. Our results also showed either a neutral or negative bias towards fat people on both measures. Due to the fact that the results of this study indicated a negative bias towards overweight people both implicitly and explicitly and such biases have shown to be detrimental, more active steps should be taken to reduce weight-related bias in an educational setting.


In the present society, western culture idealizes and praises thinness while disparaging obesity. We are constantly bombarded with media in our society that associates being thin with happiness and beauty, and being fat with unhappiness and ugliness. A growing body of evidence has indicated that obese people are stigmatized and discriminated against in a number of areas (Wang et al., 2004). Research has documented widely held perceptions that those who are obese possess...
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