Date of Award

8-2012

Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Shannon K. McCoy

Second Committee Member

Scott Eidelman

Third Committee Member

Linda Silka

Abstract

Previous research has found that overweight individuals achieve academically at lower rates than do their healthy weight counterparts. One possible explanation for this underperformance is the stigma that overweight individuals face based on their weight. Across four studies, the impact of weight stigma on academic goals and performance is examined. Study 1, examines BMI's relationship to a variety of previously established outcomes and shows that women's perception that they are a target of weight stigma mediates the effects of BMI. Studies 2-4, focus on weight salience as a manipulation of weight stigma in order to examine the impact on academic performance and goals. When weight was made salient, academic performance (GPA; Study 3) and academic goals (Study 2 & 4) among the overweight decreased compared to when weight was not salient. Study 4, also offers evidence for a potential mechanism by which weight stigma may be impacting academic achievement: ego depletion. In Study 4, salience led to a reduction in perceived cognitive resources, which partially mediated the impact of salience on academic goals. Implications for ego depletion and the impact of weight stigma on academic achievement among the overweight are discussed.

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