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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Lemm, Kristi M., 1971-

Second Advisor

Czopp, Alex

Third Advisor

Lehman, Barbara J., 1943-


Weight bias is prevalent, detrimental, and resistant to change. This study provided a general student sample and a healthcare provider sample with information about behavioral, environmental, or biogenetic causes of obesity to compare resulting anti-fat attitudes. Across conditions, the healthcare providers were less likely to agree that obesity is personally controlled, and demonstrated more positive implicit attitudes than did the general students. Among general students, implicit anti-fat attitudes were impervious to reduction efforts across article conditions. Among healthcare providers, implicit anti-fat attitudes improved with biogenetic explanations and did not worsen with behavioral explanations relative to the control group. No such condition differences were apparent among explicit anti-fat attitudes, which were generally less negative than implicit attitudes. These results highlight potentially important differences between people with varied investment in health related information. While reminders of causes of obesity may not make attitudes toward obese people better among the general population, and can even make them worse, biogenetic explanations may be especially suited to improve negative associations held by healthcare practitioners. The implications of these findings include applications that could improve healthcare conditions for a growing physically and socially vulnerable population.




Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Digital Format



Academic theses




Copying of this thesis in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.