Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology


Psychological Sciences


Rebekah Wanic, Ph.D.


Previous studies have explored the negative perceptions of overweight targets along with the specific physical and psychological characteristics commonly used to describe them. The current study extends this literature by experimentally investigating the effect that both weight and diet choices have on the characteristics attributed to an individual. Participants were exposed to one of four scenarios that involved exposure to an image (overweight or average) and a short description of the target with the diet manipulation (healthy or unhealthy) embedded. As expected, overweight targets with unhealthy diets were rated lowest on perceptions of physical health and independent of weight, targets with healthy diets were rated higher on positive psychological attributes. Overall, overweight targets with unhealthy diets were rated the lowest in all three categories (positive psychological attributes, negative psychological attributes, and physical attributes).