Volume 5

College Women's Perceptions of Personality Characteristics and Eating Habits in Underweight and Overweight Females

Andrea Niedbala and Kelly Mason

The purpose of this study was to investigate stereotypes that develop from weight and public eating habits. Female college students (n = 120) were randomly assigned to one of four conditions. A scenario was read that depicted a female who was either underweight or overweight and consumed either a small or large amount of food; questions pertaining to the character immediately followed the scenario. In addition, participants completed scales related to body esteem, tendencies to hide the body, and eating restraints. Results indicated that the overweight female was perceived as having more negative personality traits and was seen as more likely to eat larger amounts in private. Results also suggested that the underweight female that ate a large amount of food and the overweight female that ate a small amount in public were both perceived as happy with their bodies.

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