Evaluating Body Shape Perceptions Using the IAT
Research indicates that African American women have a more accepting view of larger body shapes than their Caucasian peers. Previous studies have focused on explicit measures such as questionnaires and figure ratings scales to test this conclusion. Implicit measures of attitudes are much less used, though they are superior in their accuracy of instant judgments or opinions that may be difficult for participants to articulate. The current study attempts to evaluate automatic attitudes about obese figures using an Implicit Association Test (IAT). Participants were grouped by demographic factors such as ethnicity, education and socio-economic status (SES). All women completed an IAT to measure their automatic thoughts about overweight figures in terms of attractiveness, healthiness and general positive and negative feelings. Obese, overweight and underweight figures were presented as a way to measure specific associations about those body types. The scores on these measures were compared using ethnicity as the primary demographic factor of interest. To investigate whether women evaluate figures differently depending on ethnicity, both participant groups evaluated Caucasian as well as African American figures. This project sought to contribute to our understanding of how differences in ethnicity, education level, and SES influence judgments about obesity.