The role of competence and warmth in the evaluation of obese individuals
Thouas, Lisa R.
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This study examined the effect of varying levels of competence and warmth portrayed by an obese woman, on the evaluation of obese individuals in general. The Stereotype Content Model (SCM) provided a theoretical basis for the four interventions and one control group tested in this study. The interventions involved presenting, either online or in-person, a vignette of an obese woman with varying levels (high versus low) of competence and warmth to 400 first year university students. Several measures were used to evaluate feelings, attitudes, stereotypes, and levels of perceived competence and warmth both prior to receiving the intervention and at three follow-up times. Results revealed significant effects of the warmth intervention on measures of competence and warmth at the post-test 1 time, and of the warmth intervention on measures of competence in examining changes over a two-week time period. Results also showed significant effects of presentation condition, the most interesting finding being that those in the online condition reported the greatest decrease in negative stereotypes and evaluations. Limitations of this study including design flaws are identified, as are suggestions for future research, and implications of these findings.