Imagine That! The Effect of Counterstereotypic Imagined Intergroup Contact on Weight Bias

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Abstract

Objective: Higher body-weight people are highly stigmatized and face prejudice and discrimination across a number of domains. Further, experiences of weight stigmatization are associated with a host of negative physical, psychological, and social consequences. However, less is known about effective means for reducing weight bias. One strategy that has shown some success in prejudice reduction, yet is relatively untested for weight bias, is imagined intergroup contact. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of counterstereotypic imagined intergroup contact on weight bias. Method: Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 experimental conditions or a control group. In the experimental conditions, participants were asked to imagine interactions with either a counterstereotypic (e.g., confident, attractive) or stereotypic (e.g., unattractive, insecure) “obese” person. Participants then completed the Anti-fat Attitudes Questionnaire (dislike subscale; Crandall, 1994; Quinn & Crocker, 1999), the Universal Measure of Bias–Fat (negative judgment and social distance subscales; Latner et al., 2008), and the Fat Phobia Scale. Results: Results indicated that participants in the counterstereotypic condition reported lower levels of weight bias (dislike, negative judgment, and social distance) than participants in the stereotypic and control conditions. Conclusion: These findings highlight the potential usefulness of counterstereotypic imagined contact to reduce weight bias.

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