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Empathy and perspective-taking: examination and comparison of strategies to reduce weight stigma


Gloor, Jamie Lee; Puhl, Rebecca M (2016). Empathy and perspective-taking: examination and comparison of strategies to reduce weight stigma. Stigma and Health, 1(4):269-279.

Abstract

Considerable evidence indicates that individuals with obesity are vulnerable to stigma and discrimination. However, comparably less research has examined strategies to reduce weight bias, and the existing evidence is mixed. To help clarify these findings and incorporate prejudice-reduction interventions that have been successfully applied to other stigmatized groups (i.e., empathy-induction and perspective-taking), we experimentally tested and compared four different, brief stigma-reduction interventions in a national sample of American adults. Participants (N = 650) were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 experimental conditions (Empathy, Perspective-Taking, Causal Information, or Empathy/Information Hybrid) or a control condition. Outcome variables included explicit weight bias (Fat Phobia), social distance, and affective reactions to individuals with obesity. The empathy and perspective-taking conditions induced more empathy than the control and informational conditions, and altered affective reactions towards persons with obesity in the expected directions. However, no experimental condition reduced Fat Phobia or social distance relative to the control condition. The current findings suggest that empathy-evoking and perspective-taking strategies may increase empathy and alter affective reactions towards individuals with obesity; however, these strategies remain questionable as effective means to reduce weight stigma.

Abstract

Considerable evidence indicates that individuals with obesity are vulnerable to stigma and discrimination. However, comparably less research has examined strategies to reduce weight bias, and the existing evidence is mixed. To help clarify these findings and incorporate prejudice-reduction interventions that have been successfully applied to other stigmatized groups (i.e., empathy-induction and perspective-taking), we experimentally tested and compared four different, brief stigma-reduction interventions in a national sample of American adults. Participants (N = 650) were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 experimental conditions (Empathy, Perspective-Taking, Causal Information, or Empathy/Information Hybrid) or a control condition. Outcome variables included explicit weight bias (Fat Phobia), social distance, and affective reactions to individuals with obesity. The empathy and perspective-taking conditions induced more empathy than the control and informational conditions, and altered affective reactions towards persons with obesity in the expected directions. However, no experimental condition reduced Fat Phobia or social distance relative to the control condition. The current findings suggest that empathy-evoking and perspective-taking strategies may increase empathy and alter affective reactions towards individuals with obesity; however, these strategies remain questionable as effective means to reduce weight stigma.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Business Administration
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:29 Feb 2016 13:50
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 19:10
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:2376-6972
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/sah0000030
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:12991

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