Implicit anti-fat bias in physical educators: Physical attributes, ideology and socialization

Department of Psychology, University of Otago, Taieri, Otago, New Zealand
International Journal of Obesity (Impact Factor: 5). 03/2007; 31(2):308-14. DOI: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0803398
Source: PubMed


To investigate the implicit and explicit prejudice of physical education (PE) students before, and following extensive professional training, and to examine the relationship of anti-fat prejudice to relevant psychosocial predictors.
Implicit and explicit anti-fat prejudice of year one and three PE students (cross-sectional sample) were assessed and compared to a similarly matched (age, body mass index (BMI), education) sample of psychology students.
Three hundred and forty-four university students, 180 PE students, 164 psychology students (67% female, mean age 20 years, BMI: mean 23.18 kg/m(2)).
Measures of implicit and explicit anti-fat prejudice were administered to PE and psychology students in either their second week, or near completion of their third year, of university study. Physical identity, body esteem and social dominance orientation (SDO) were assessed in order to establish their relationship with anti-fat bias.
PE students displayed higher levels of implicit anti-fat bias than psychology students, and other health professionals. Additionally, year three PE students displayed higher levels of implicit anti-fat attitudes than year one PE students. The higher implicit anti-fat biases exhibited by year three PE students were associated with SDO, and lower body esteem.
Physical educators, and particularly those more socialized in the PE environment, display strong negative prejudice toward obese individuals that is greater than that displayed by other groups. These prejudices appear to be supported by an over-investment in physical attributes, and ideological beliefs.

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Available from: John Hunter, Aug 04, 2014
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    • "Thus, it is possible that preservice teachers' implicit and explicit attitudes toward obese students do not mirror those toward obesity in general. However, previous research on anti-obesity bias has used the same procedure (e.g., O'Brien et al. 2007), and the relation between teachers' implicit attitudes toward racial minorities in general and racial minority students' academic achievement (van den Bergh et al. 2010) implies that general implicit attitudes are a valid indicator of implicit attitudes toward the ''subcategory'' student. Nevertheless, future research should investigate attitudes toward obese students more specifically. "
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    ABSTRACT: Obese children experience disadvantages in school and discrimination from their teachers. Teachers’ implicit and explicit attitudes have been identified as contributing to these disadvantages. Drawing on dual process models, we investigated the nature of pre-service teachers’ implicit and explicit attitudes, their motivation to respond without prejudice, and how attitudes influence their judgments of an obese student. Results showed that implicit anti-obesity bias might stem from an implicit positivity toward thinness rather than from an implicit negativity toward obesity. Explicit attitudes were mixed: positive attitudes toward achievement, a dislike of obese persons, and neutral attitudes concerning blame and health responsibility emerged. Implicit and explicit attitudes affected judgments of language proficiency and intelligence: pre-service teachers with more positive attitudes judged the obese student more favorably. The results of multiple regression analyses suggest that attitudes might exert a greater influence when pre-service teachers must draw inferences to derive the judgment.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Social Psychology of Education
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    • "While it is possible that these are idiosyncratic characteristics of the sample, it is also possible that the results might have been different if we had used other measurement instruments. On the one hand, several studies have found that prejudice toward obese people is revealed by implicit measures and not explicit measures of attitudes toward obesity (O'Brien et al., 2007, Rukavina, Li, Shen, & Sun, 2010). On the other hand, measures of body dissatisfaction based on silhouettes are designed to assess dissatisfaction generated by discrepancy with the ideal of thinness (Gardner & Brown, 2010), and it is probable that they are not the most adequate in a sample, that of the PE teachers, characterized by having below normal weight at their age. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective This paper studied the effects of the Physical Education (PE) class context on adolescent body avoidance behaviors. Design Cross-sectional study. Methods A sample of adolescents (n = 1792) completed questionnaires measuring body size dissatisfaction, body image avoidance behaviors and physical activity levels. Their PE teachers (n = 81) completed questionnaires of body size dissatisfaction, attitudes toward obesity and teaching characteristics, including questions regarding teaching style, experience and training. Participants’ height and weight were measured. Contextual effects -PE teachers’ and peers’ influence-were analyzed using multilevel methods. Results Multilevel regression showed that the stronger the desire for thinness of PE classmates the more frequent the body avoidance behaviors of the adolescents. We also found an inverse relationship of the teachers’ teaching experience and academic training with students’ avoidance behaviors. Conclusions The PE teacher and PE classmates exercise a degree of influence on some of the behavioral manifestations of body image problems, even when the effects of the individual characteristics of the adolescents are controlled. However, the influence of this educational context has limited predictive capacity and should be studied together with other social contexts –friends and family-in future research.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Psychology of Sport and Exercise
    • "To date, the few studies in this area have examined perceptions of weight among physical educators with surveys (e.g., Greenleaf & Weiller, 2005) and focus groups (e.g., Bauer et al., 2004), in samples of students training to become physical educators (e.g., Chambliss et al., 2004; Greenleaf et al., 2008; O'Brien et al., 2007) or general teachers (e.g., Neumark-Sztainer et al., 1999). Although some have systematically assessed opinions about obesity or overweight people, most studies of PE teachers have assessed general anti-fat attitudes (i.e., negative opinions about " fat kids " , " fat children " , " fat people " , or " obese persons " ; Chambliss et al., 2004; Greenleaf & Weiller, 2005; Greenleaf et al., 2008; Neumark-Sztainer et al., 1999; O'Brien et al., 2007). Measures that assessed general anti-fat attitudes or attitudes about overweight adults included potentially inappropriate or irrelevant items for teachers' opinions of their students (e.g., sexual attractiveness; Anti-fat Attitudes Scale, Morrison & O'Connor, 1999). "
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives Overweight youth are frequent targets of weight-based victimization during Physical Education (PE) and sports. In addition, previous research indicates that teachers’ perceptions and expectations may influence their likelihood of intervening during victimization, and physical educators may endorse biased perceptions and expectations of overweight youth. Despite this evidence, no research has examined how physical educators respond to weight-based victimization of their students. Thus, the current study examined PE teachers’ and coaches’ responses to different types of victimization involving average weight and overweight students.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2012 · Psychology of Sport and Exercise
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