February Update: Results!

Hello everyone! February has gone by so quickly, and I’ve gotten a lot of work done for my thesis. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to present my work at the Honors Research Colloquium. It served as great preparation for my upcoming defense in April and gave me the opportunity to practice communicating my results to an audience.

Since then, I have worked on a draft of my introduction and have nearly finished my methods and results sections. I would like to use this blog post to tell you a little bit about my results. To remind you, my study looked at how exposure to plus-size versus thin models (compared to a control group) affected women’s state body image and implicit responses to food. We first looked at state weight dissatisfaction and found there was no differential effect of the manipulation on women’s weight dissatisfaction. We then looked at implicit liking of foods. Here we found that all participants, regardless of condition, implicitly liked the unhealthy foods more than the healthy foods and more than neutral non-food items. Consistent with this we found that participants explicitly rated their liking and wanting of unhealthy foods higher than healthy foods. So it appears that viewing thin and plus-size models does not affect women’s liking or wanting of foods.  However, despite this we found that women who viewed the advertisement with the plus-size model were more distracted by unhealthy foods, whereas women in the thin model condition and control condition were not differentially distracted. These results suggest that immediately after watching a commercial with a plus-size model, women may be more distracted by unhealthy foods, which may in turn increase their consumption of these foods.

I am looking forward to finalizing the sections of my paper and working on my final presentation for my thesis defense. March and April will be busy but exciting!


  1. Hello Kevin,
    You make a great point about the possible reason for this distraction. Another possibility is that after viewing images of a beautiful plus-size woman, participants felt a sort of permission to eat or indulge in unhealthy foods, like it okay to consume these foods because this plus-size woman was shown in such a positive light.
    Another possibility is that seeing a plus-size/overweight woman activated an unhealthy food schema in individuals. It is likely that many people have an internalized weight bias that causes them to associate overweight with unhealthy “junk foods”, and this association caused them to be drawn to these foods after seeing a plus-size woman.
    Thank you for your feedback!

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