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A quantitative analysis of weight targeted blame attribution and the moderating role of body appreciation.

Montgomery, Laura (2015) A quantitative analysis of weight targeted blame attribution and the moderating role of body appreciation. University of Brighton. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This study examines differences in blame attributions afforded to an underweight and overweight target. Female University students (N=122) were randomly allocated to either the overweight or underweight target condition and instructed to rate statements indicating their perceptions of how responsible the target was for their respective weight in terms of internal (self) and external (environmental) blame. Participants own body appreciation was also measured using Avalos’s (2005) Body Appreciation Scale (BAS). The overweight target was attributed significantly higher levels of internal (self) blame than the underweight target. The results support the notion that weight has strikingly different social and moral connotations dependent on which end of the spectrum one resides with overweight females considered significantly more responsible for their respective weight issues. This salient finding was understood in terms of attribution errors and more specifically, the just-world hypothesis. Body appreciation was also found to moderate the salient effect of internal blame, with those higher in body appreciation attributing lower internal blame to the overweight target than those lower in body appreciation. The results highlight the importance of considering the role of body appreciation and, more specifically the concept of it serving to potentially protect against both ideal/actual self-discrepancies and overly critical responses to an omnipotent ‘feared’ overweight self, resulting in lower attributions of internal blame.

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